BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – The Bowling Green men's basketball team used a 9-0 run midway through the second half to pull away from Mid-American Conference West Division leader Western Michigan Wednesday night, defeating the Broncos 70-60 in the Stroh Center.
The Falcons have won three of their last four conference games to improve to 10-14 overall and 5-6 in MAC play. Battling for possible byes deep into the MAC Tournament, Bowling Green would be the No. 4 seed, gaining byes to the third round, if the event were to start today.
A'uston Calhoun scored 24 points, his second-best scoring total of the season, on 10-of-17 shooting. The Falcons overcame a 38-28 rebounding disparity by forcing 18 Western Michigan turnovers and turning those into 24 second-chance points.
Western Michigan entered the contest as one of the best teams in the country at getting to the free-throw line and the Broncos did not disappoint, attempting 26, tied for the most an opponent has attempted in the Stroh Center this year. However, Western Michigan typically converts on those free-throws, entering the game at better than 70 percent on the season. But the Broncos made just half of the attempts.
Bowling Green shot 64 percent in the second half to take over after the game was tied at 30-30 at the break. In fact, Western Michigan briefly took a 33-32 second-half lead on a Brandon Pokley three-pointer but the Falcons responded with a 10-1 run and never trailed again. Chauncey Orr sparked the team with a pair of free-throws and a three-point play on successive possessions. Richaun Holmes scored on a tough move inside and Jordon Crawford knocked down a three-pointer that gave the Falcons their largest lead of the game at 42-34.
Western Michigan responded with three consecutive buckets and Bowling Green still led by just three with 13:38 to play at 44-41. A Luke Kraus steal turned into a Crawford fastbreak lay-up and the Falcons had the start of a 9-0 run that effectively put the game away. Western Michigan began a stretch of turnovers on five consecutive possessions and Crawford connected on a transition three-pointer, followed by lay-ups from Calhoun and Orr to make it 53-41.
Bowling Green pushed the lead to 15 on three different occasions and while Western Michigan rallied to cut the deficit to six with 57 seconds remaining, Bowling Green made its final four free-throws to ice the contest.
Along with Calhoun's 24 points, Crawford had 13 points and four assists, while Orr added 11 points and three steals. Kraus tossed in nine points to go with five rebounds , two assists and two steals. Holmes came off the bench to score eight points and tie his season-high with nine rebounds. He also had three steals and two blocked shots, giving him 58 for the season, just one shy of the school record.
For the game, Bowling Green shot 50 percent from the field, the third time this year the Falcons have made at least half of their shots. BGSU also moved to 9-0 all-time in the Stroh Center when scoring at least 70 points, reaching that exact total for the fourth time this year.
With the loss, Western Michigan falls to 15-9 on the season and 7-4 in MAC play. Bowling Green inches closer to the Broncos for the No. 3 seed and remains tied with Buffalo and Kent State for the fourth seed for the MAC Tournament.
The Falcons will hit the road to face Akron Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Zips currently have a 16-game winning streak and are receiving votes in both major top 25 polls.