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Free throws help Falcons rally past Bobcats again

Bowling Green makes 36 of 38 from line, tops Ohio 83-75

ATHENS – Bowling Green hit on 36 of 38 free throws and for the straight time in the series rallied from a halftime deficit to beat Ohio 83-75 on Wednesday afternoon at The Convo.

Playing without star point guard Jason Preston because of a lower body injury, the Bobcats led 42-32 at halftime, but the Mid-American Conference preseason favorite Falcons ruled the second half and closed the game on an 11-1 run to stay unbeaten in league play while keeping the Bobcats winless.

Last season, Ohio had halftime leads of 10 and then 15 points against Bowling Green that it could not hold.

Trey Diggs led five Falcons in double figures with 20 points in 26 minutes off the bench. Kaden Metheny had 16 points, while Justin Turner scored 15 points despite going just 3 of 10 from the field, including 0 of 6 from long range.

Dwight Wilson III led the Bobcats (4-4, 0-2 MAC) with 20 points and six rebounds, with Ben Roderick adding 16 points. Ben Vander Plas had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds with five assists, and Lunden McDay scored 11 points.

"If you go back to Marshall and Akron, we didn't have near the fight or the intensity or the effort level," Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. "That's what I wanted to see today and I saw it. If we play with that intensity and effort level, we're going to win a lot of games. Now it's a matter of when you play really good teams and they're getting to the free throw line every foul, you got to stop when that rebound comes and you got to find a way to come up with that 50/50 ball."

Hot shooting from beyond the arc helped Ohio take control early. Roderick hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put his team up 19-7 at the 12:10 mark, and after Bowling Green got as close as 23-20 on a Metheny 3-pointer less than five minutes later, McDay and Vander Plas connected from long range to push the advantage back up to nine.

The Bobcats took their biggest lead of 42-39 on a Wilson layup just 1:09 before halftime, but the Falcons closed the gap to 10 with three free throws by Daeqwon Plowden. Those were his only three points of the first half, but he finished with 11 points.

Turner also was shut down in the first half, not scoring his first points until 2:18 before halftime on a pair of free throws. He did not make a field goal in the first half.

Mason McMurray connected on a 3-pointer with 14:28 remaining in the game to give Ohio a 56-45 lead, but Bowling Green slowly worked its way closer and used an 8-0 run to tie the game at 63 with two Diggs free throws with 9:20 remaining. Two more foul shots by Diggs with 7:05 to go gave the Falcons their first lead 72-70 with 7:05 to go.

A Wilson layup with four minutes left gave Ohio its final lead 74-72, but that was the last field goal of the game for the Bobcats. Diggs tied the game with a layup, and Turner hit two from the foul line, and Metheny extended the advantage to four with 2:23 remaining. Turner’s free throws with 55 seconds left made it 80-74.

Vander Plas split two free throws with 48 seconds to go for the only point for the Bobcats in the final four minutes. That made it 80-75, and Metheny answered with one free throw. His miss on the second was just the second miss at the line in the game for the Falcons. After a pair of missed Ohio 3-pointers, Diggs made two more free throws.

Starting in place of Preston, freshman Mark Sears had nine points, nine assists and six rebounds in 33 minutes. Coach Jeff Boals did not provide much information on the severity of Preston’s injury.

Dylan Swingle had 14 points for the Falcons.

Bowling Green shot just 34.6% from the field in the first half but stayed close by making 9 of 10 free throws. It shot 52.4% on field goals in the second half and also made 27 of 28 from the foul line.

After shooting 47% overall, including from 3-pointer range, in the first half, Ohio made just 33.3% of its second-half shots, including 4 of 16 3-pointers. It was 9 of 12 from the foul line, all in the second half.

Ohio originally was scheduled to play Miami on Tuesday, but that game was canceled because of COVID-19 problems for the RedHawks. The Bobcats’ game against the Falcons was moved up in its place from March.

The Bobcat are set to face Ball State at 3 p.m. Saturday in Muncie, Indiana, on CBS Sports Network.

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