Chippewas Fall to Bowling Green State, 77-73

Steve Harris

Central Michigan University built an early nine-point lead against Mid-American Conference foe Bowling Green State Wednesday night at Rose Arena, but couldn't hold on in the end, losing to the Falcons, 77-73.

Central Michigan cruised to a 17-8 lead midway through the first half and held a 30-25 advantage over Bowling Green at the break, but in the end, it wasn't enough for the Chippewas, who lost a heartbreaker, 77-73.

"I thought Central Michigan fought as hard as any team we've faced all year," BGSU head coach Dan Dakich said. "In the end it was going to come down to who gets some breaks and some stops. We got both."

"We made some youthful mistakes down the stretch," said CMU head coach Jay Smith. "I felt the last three minutes were crucial."

The big break for the Falcons came with 2:12 remaining and CMU clinging to a 70-69 lead. BGSU junior guard Steven Wright launched a three-point attempt from the right corner that hit the rim and bounced straight up about six feet then swished through the net. Suddenly, the Falcons had a 72-70 lead, one they would never relinquish.

"I thought it was coming off, but it went down," said Wright. "It's tough to win on the road in the MAC."

"I turned away thinking he'd missed it," Dakich added. "I thought we did a fantastic job of playing defense tonight."

The Chippewas (7-10, 2-7 MAC) were led by center Steve Harris, who scored a career-high 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Sophomore Eddie Spencer added a career-high 15 points and junior Kevin Nelson chipped in with 14.

Bowling Green (12-4, 6-2 MAC) had four players score in double figures, led by senior forward John Reimold with 19, followed by senior center Josh Almanson (16), Wright (15) and sophomore guard John Floyd (12).

For the game, CMU converted 29-of-63 shots from the field for 46 percent, compared to 22-of-46 (47.8 percent) for BGSU. The Chippewas made just 4-of-16 three-point attempts while the falcons converted 6-of-12.

Bowling Green had a distinct advantage at the free-throw line, making 27-of-32 attempts compared to 11-of-15 for CMU.

"We came out with a great fight tonight," Smith said, "but give Bowling Green credit, they played hard and got the win."

The Chippewas now must prepare for a game Saturday at archrival and MAC West leading Western Michigan University. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in University Arena.

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