CLEVELAND – Bowling Green made a game of it in the second half against Akron Thursday night thanks to Daeqwon Plowden.
However, the Zips, helped by two big 3-pointers from Jermaine Marshall late in the game, were able to hold on for a 74-67 victory in the Mid-American Conference tournament quarterfinals.
“I thought it was a very good game on both ends,” BG head coach Michael Huger said. “We were able to compete and get back in and get a lead late and we could sustain it. They had some big shots at the end and that was the difference in the game. And, you know, those guys did a great job and we couldn’t pull it off.”
Akron scored the first eight points of the game and had a 34-26 lead at the half. The Falcons were 10-of-23 shooting, including 2-of-11 on 3-pointers, in the first 20 minutes.
The second half was a different story with Plowden, who scored 19 of his team-high 26 points. Along with help on some better defense, the Falcons were able to make it a game.
“He definitely did a great job. He did all he could and extremely well. He scored the ball well and rebounded the ball,” Huger said about Plowden. “I don’t know what he finished with on rebounds, but he has zero at halftime and challenged to rebound the ball better and he did a much better job in the second half.
“You know, he tried his best. He tried to put us on his back and get us into the next round.”
With Akron leading 57-50, Chandler Turner scored five points and Trey Diggs then tied it at 57 for the Falcons.
With 5:46 left in the second half, Plowden scored on a layup to give the Falcons their first lead of the game, 59-57. Akron’s Enrique Freeman then tied the game at 59. Josiah Fulcher’s layup gave BG a 61-59 lead.
Akron then scored seven straight points to take a 66-61 lead, including Marshall’s first 3-pointer that basically put the game away. Akron out-scored BG 8-6 the rest of the way.
“We gave ourselves a chance. We just make too many little mistakes that cost us the game,” Huger said. “And they did a big job watching it to the big three. That’s really unexpected. No one expected him (Marshall) to get that shot. So it is what it is.”
The Zips were led by Loren Christian Jackson, who finished with 31 points.
Chandler Turner was the only other Falcon in double-figures with 12 points and also eight rebounds.
BG’s Justin Turner, who was injured in the final regular season game, tried to make a difference, playing 29:35, but scored only four points with five rebounds and two assists.
“We were going to go without him, but he wanted to play in our home that much of what he’d done for Bowling Green basketball and myself and my coaches, that, you know, all more than that, that he wanted to play,” Huger said about Justin Turner, the top scorer in BGSU history. “And I had to give him the opportunity to play well. Even banged up, he still did a really good job of distributing the ball.
“And when we needed it, it was hard to go to him at that stage. He was definitely banged up. And, you know, I feel for the guy because he worked his tail off all these years to get to this moment and it ended like this.”
The Falcons finish the season at 14-11 and Akron, 15-7, advances to play Buffalo Friday.
There have been rumors that Huger would leave to be the head coach at Fordham.
“I’m a Falcon. So that’s all said and done,” Huger said. “I got work to do here. And that’s all that’s on my mind. And you’ll see me next year. … I’m telling you, you’ll see me next year.”
Notes: Each team had 40 rebounds … BG’s biggest lead was two points … Akron’s biggest lead was 12 points … Akron had the lead 36:29 and BG had the lead for 1:02 … 38 of BG’s 67 points came in the paint … The Falcons also got 28 points off the bench.
Plowden, 11-1-3—26; J. Turner, 2-0—4; Swingle, 2-1—5; Field, 0-0—0; Metheny, 2-0—4; Fulcher, 2-0—4; Young, 1-1—3; Diggs, 2-1-2—9; C. Turner, 3-1-3—12; Elsasser, 0-0—0; Washington, 0-0—0. TOTALS: 24-3-10—67.
Ali, 4-1—9; Freeman, 1-0—2; Jackson, 8-2-9—31; Tribble, 1-2—4; Trimble Jr., 0-3-3—12; Reece, 3-2—8; Marshall, 1-2-0—8; Clarke, 0-0—0; Dawson, 0-0—0. TOTALS: 18-7-17—74.