Bowling Green seniors Jordon Crawford and A'uston Calhoun combined for 41 points and the Falcons scored 20 on the break to defeat a hot Buffalo team 76-65 Friday night in the Stroh Center on Senior Night.
Crawford had 26 points, 20 in the second half, as Bowling Green overcame a three-point halftime deficit to pull away from Buffalo late. Crawford also had four assists and four steals as the Falcons forced Buffalo into 16 turnovers, many of which turned into lay-ups on the break. While Bowling Green scored 20 points in transition, Buffalo generated just two points on the break as the Falcons turned it over only nine times.
Along with Crawford and Calhoun, junior Cam Black had his best game of the year, scoring a season-high 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting and adding six rebounds, two blocks, two assists and a steal. Richaun Holmes came off the bench to post nine points and two blocks, while Anthony Henderson added seven points and three rebounds.
Bowling Green actually fell behind by eight points in the first half but Henderson scored five points on a lay-up and a three-point play to cut the deficit to three. After Buffalo's Jarryn Skeete knocked down a jumper with 26 seconds to play, the Falcons held for the last shot. Crawford's three-point attempt rimmed out but Spencer Parker grabbed the rebound and was fouled with just 0.1 seconds remaining. He made both free-throws to make it 35-32 at the half.
The Falcons quickly tied the score in the second half and took the lead for good on Black's three-point play with 14:42 left. After that play put Bowling Green ahead 43-42, Black assisted on a dunk by Calhoun on the next possession before a Luke Kraus steal turned into a Crawford fastbreak lay-up that pushed the lead to five.
Crawford answered two Buffalo runs down the stretch as the Bulls tried to fight back. Tony Watson's three-pointer with 9:37 to play drew the Bulls within two, but Crawford made a free-throw on the next possession and then connected on a three-pointer to give Bowling Green a 53-47 lead.
Buffalo closed to within four on a Javon McCrea jumper with 3:46 to go but Crawford hit his second three-pointer of the game and then, after Black got a steal, he made his last three in transition to put the Falcons ahead 67-57. Crawford scored 12 points in the final 3:31 of the game and Buffalo never got closer than nine the rest of the way.
Bowling Green overcame a furious start by Buffalo as the Bulls made 14 of their first 18 shots and scored 27 points by the midway point of the first half. The Falcons held Buffalo to just 1-of-8 shooting the remainder of the first half and then just 39 percent in the second half. BGSU, on the other hand, shot 58 percent from the floor in the final stanza, making 3-of-5 three-point attempts.
McCrea, who is a MAC Player of the Year candidate, looked like the runaway favorite early on. He made his first five shot attempts and had 10 points by the first media timeout of the game. However, Black's defense picked up and McCrea was just 2-of-8 the rest of the way, finishing with 15 points, five rebounds, three blocks, two steals and seven turnovers.
Buffalo falls to 12-19 on the year and 7-9 in MAC play with the loss. Bowling Green improves to 13-18 overall and 7-9 in league play. The Falcons still could earn as high as the No. 5 seed for the MAC Tournament or as low as the No. 8 seed. The No. 5 seed carries with it a bye to the second round of the MAC Tournament but the Falcons need losses by both Eastern Michigan and Ball State Saturday to achieve that.
If Bowling Green is seeded below No. 5, the Falcons would host a MAC Tournament First Round game Monday at 7 p.m. against either Central Michigan, Miami or Northern Illinois. Tickets for that contest would be just one dollar.