Bowling Green, Ohio – Bowling Green junior Richaun Holmes erupted in the second half and led the Falcons to a 79-69 victory over visiting North Dakota at the Stroh Center on Wednesday.
The senior trio of Troy Huff, Jaron Nash and Josh Schuler all reached double figures and tried to keep the visitors within striking distance, but Holmes’ presence on both ends of the court after the break was the difference.
Holmes was limited to just two points and two rebounds in the first half, but tallied 19 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks in the final 20 minutes to push BGSU’s record to 4-5. The loss was the fifth-straight for UND, who dropped to 2-6 on the young season.
“We were not real smart offensively,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “We knew coming in they had two really good shot blockers back there. We were extremely aggressive, which I want our guys to be, but when we drove it in there, we forced the issue instead of making the extra pass.”
The Falcons led just 30-27 at the break, but a quick 6-0 run pushed their advantage to 36-27. Huff and Nash answered that spurt with a quick 9-2 run to get UND right back in the game, but Holmes helped his squad put the game away with a subsequent 13-2 run that pushed the home team’s advantage to double figures for the first time.
Schuler had a season-high 14 points in a return to his home state, but the visitors could not get any closer than five points down the stretch. Huff led UND with 19 points, 16 of which came after halftime, while Nash added 17 and a season-high nine rebounds.
Turnovers plagued both teams in the opening 20 minutes that saw Bowling Green a three-point advantage thanks to 55 percent shooting from the floor. UND turned 11 BGSU turnovers into 13 points, while the Falcons turned the visitors’ 11 miscues into 10 points.
Spencer Parker and Anthony Henderson each had eight points for BGSU, while Schuler led UND with eight points off the bench. Schuler’s production led a 15-0 advantage by the UND reserves in the opening stanza.
UND would get back in the game with defensive pressure, coming up with a season-high 14 steals. Senior Aaron Anderson had a career-high five of those and added nine points and a season-high six assists.
Holmes and company matched UND’s ability to steal the ball by swatting away shots, collecting 13 blocks as a team in the contest. Holmes had seven of those and fellow big man Cameron Black added four. UND also turned the ball over a season-high 18 times.
The Falcons led by as many as five points in the opening half, but Schuler scored all eight of his points on three consecutive possessions for UND to give the Green and White a 25-23 lead with just under five minutes to play.
That would be the final lead of the game for UND, who shot only 42.2 percent from the field and went to the free-throw line 10 times in the contest. BGSU stayed consistent and shot 55 percent again from the floor after halftime and knocked down 23-of-31 foul shots. Holmes went 9-for-10 from the stripe.
UND will return home for its final two non-conference games before Christmas, hosting Presentation College on Sunday at 4 p.m.
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