BG’s Delvin Dickerson pulls down a rebound in front of Eastern Michigan’s Karrington Ward in a MAC tournament second-round game. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
CLEVELAND — Bowling Green State University suffered a disappointing 73-67 loss to Eastern Michigan Wednesday in a Mid-American Conference men’s basketball tournament second-round game at Quicken Loans Arena.
“Losing your last game is always tough,” BG men’s basketball coach Chris Jans said. “I feel bad for us, but as I told them [in the locker room], we just didn’t play well enough to win.”
The loss was tempered by good news: After the game, the Falcons announced they would accept a bid to play in the CollegeInsiders.com Tournament.
PHOTO GALLERY: BGSU vs. Eastern Michigan
The problems for the Falcons against Eastern Michigan on Wednesday were two-fold. First, BG allowed the Eagles to grab 18 offensive rebounds that led to 20 points. Second, the Falcons turned the ball over 15 times while EMU did not have a single turnover in the second half and just seven in the game.
“At the end of the day, the rebounding was the deal,” Jans said. “They had 18 offensive rebounds, and we had only six.
“You can talk about their guards, and they were good. … Our first-stop defense was pretty good; we just couldn’t secure enough rebounds, and that just deflates you.”
Bowling Green (20-11) got 18 points each from Richaun Holmes and Jehvon Clarke, while Zack Denny scored 13.
Eastern Michigan (21-12) was led by Raven Lee’s 27 points, while Mike Talley scored 21 and Karrington Ward had 15 points. With the win, the Eagles advance to the third round of the tournament and will play Toledo today at 6:30 p.m.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair with eight ties. After surviving an early EMU flurry, the Falcons used a 9-0 run to lead 27-21 with 8:26 to play.
But the Eagles called a timeout, then came back with a 9-0 run and, by halftime, held a 40-39 lead.
The key for Eastern Michigan in the first half was a 29-point combined effort by Lee and Talley.
“They were aggressive from start to finish,” Clarke said of the EMU guards. “I thought we did a decent job in the first part of the second half, but throughout the game they knocked us off the edge a little bit.
“They were aggressive taking the ball to the hoop, drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line. They were making the game easier for them and their teammates.”
Talley said the Eagles’ strategy on offense was to pull Holmes away from the basket and drive to the rim.
“He's the MAC defensive player of the year this year, and he has a real impact in the paint, so our strategy was to get him out of there,” Talley said. “Once I saw the lanes open and clear, I tried to attack the basket as much as possible.”
Holmes, who said he was 100 percent after missing BG’s first-round game with a “head injury,” was outstanding at the offensive end in the first half. He scored 16 on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and a 5-for-5 effort from the foul line.
“He played like a warrior in the first half,” Jans said of Holmes. “But, in the second half, you could tell he didn’t have enough gas in the tank because he was out for so long.
Holmes scored at the 18:51 mark of the period, then never took another shot.
“They were really physical the whole game, and I just couldn’t get it going in the second half,” Holmes said.
Neither team led by more than four points through the majority of the second half, and when BG’s Anthony Henderson hit a short jumper at the 4:42 mark of the period it tied the game at 67-67.
From that point, the Falcons did not score again, missing their final five shots and turning the ball over two more times.
Eastern Michigan wasn’t much better, missing all five of its shots from the floor. But the Eagles grabbed three more offensive rebounds and made 6 of 8 free throws in that span to close out the win.
While Eastern Michigan’s offense was efficient because of its limited turnovers, Jans thought the bigger problem was his team’s seven second-half turnovers.
“They did an excellent job of taking care of the basketball,” Jans said of the Eagles. “And you could see they were aggressive early. Two or three of our early passes were nearly steals that we survived.
“Unfortunately, they stayed aggressive, we didn’t adjust to it, and they got some steals.”
NOTES: The CIT bid will mark the second appearance by the Falcons in that tournament. BG lost at Oakland in the CIT in 2012. ... Bowling Green’s first-round opponent and site will be announced Sunday. ... This will mark the 21st postseason bid for the Falcons, a number that includes four NCAA tournament berths, 14 appearances in the NIT, and one appearance in the National Commissioners Invitational tournament.
BG guard Zack Denny tries to shoot over Eastern Michigan defenders during a second-round game. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWOWRTH