BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team could not contain the hot 3-point shooting of Maryland-Baltimore County in the first half.
In the second, the Falcons struggled with turnovers that allowed UMBC to stay in the contest. BG managed to do enough good things to post a 72-64 victory at Stroh Center on Wednesday — and make its coach smile.
"I was satisfied with the way we played, with the effort," Falcons coach Michael Huger said. "But I was disappointed in the turnovers at the end of the game; I didn't think they were forced, they were our mistakes, and they made the game closer than it should have been."’
PHOTO GALLERY: Maryland-Baltimore County vs. BGSU men
Bowling Green (5-2) was led by Spencer Parker with 20 points, while Wes Alcegaire added 15, and Rasheed Worrell 14. UMBC (1-7) was by Joe Sherburne with 19.
The game’s first run was made by the Retrievers, who used a 9-0 spurt to lead 19-12 with 11:21 left in the first half.
BG responded with a 9-0 run of its own fueled by Alcegaire, who scored seven of those points — including a 3-pointer that gave the Falcons a 21-19 advantage with 7:55 on the clock.
Sherburne connected on a 3-pointer on the next possession to spark an 11-4 run, with Elliott and Ben Grace also supplying 3s to fuel the surge.
On the final possession of the first half Sherburne hustled to grab a miss and tipped the ball to Grace, whose 3-pointer beat the buzzer to give UMBC a 33-29 halftime advantage.
“We didn’t do a great job of defending the 3,” Parker said. “We didn’t talk on defense, and we had some miscommunication that led to wide-open shots for them.”
UMBC connected on 7 of 16 3-pointers (43.8 percent) in the first half, with Sherburne making 3 of 7 while Grace hit 3 of 4.
Zack Denny opened the second half by making a 3, but UMBC scored the next four points. After two free throws by Worrell, Sherburne connected on another 3 that gave the Retrievers a 40-34 lead with 15:56 left in the second half.
From that point the Falcons got rolling. A 9-3 BG run capped by a Josh Gomez layup tied the game at 43-all with 12:22 on the clock, and a technical foul called on UMBC’s Cody Joyce led to free throws by Ishmael Ali that gave BG the lead for good just 28 seconds later.
Another 9-0 run by Bowling Green that saw Worrell and Parker each contribute three points apiece expanded the Falcons advantage to 65-52 with 4:06 left.
“Our defense started to improve,” Huger said. “We started to get stops, and we wanted to run off our defense in transition. ... It was a matter of bearing down and saying, ‘I can stop my man.’ We didn’t give up as many 3s and took control of the game — until we started to turn the ball over.”
The Retrievers used seven BG turnovers in the final four minutes to create a nervous finish. UMBC made five free throws as part of a 7-0 run that cut Bowling Green’s lead to 67-63 with just 48 seconds to play.
“There’s no way we’re supposed to turn the ball over that much at the end,” Huger said. “Not with the guards we have. That’s why I’m disappointed with our play at the end of the game.”
Ali made a pair of free throws to stop that run, and a three-point play by Parker with 18 seconds left allowed the Falcons to exhale.
Bowling Green outscored UMBC 43-31 in the second half primarily by doing a better job defending 3s, as the Retreivers made just 2 of 11 in the period (18.2 percent) and were further hamstrung by 10 turnovers.
The Falcons finished with a 38-28 rebounding advantage, with Denny leading the with 11, Worrell adding seven and Parker six.
Bowling Green’s Spencer Parker, who led the Falcons with 20 points, shoots against Maryland-Baltimore County guard Will Darley. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH