After scoring just six points during a home loss to Miami in the Mid-American Conference season-opener on Jan. 2 and three in first of Tuesday’s rematch at Millett Hall, Bowling Green sophomore guard Rodrick Caldwell decided enough was enough.
The Wayne High School product scored nine points in the second half, helping the Falcons come from behind and escape Oxford with an 81-70 win in the MAC East Division game before a crowd of 996.
“I came in with the mindset that I wanted to get this win,” said the 5-foot-10 Caldwell, who’d scored a total of nine points in Bowling Green’s previous three games. “The last couple of games, I didn’t play well, and I wanted to come out and play good in the second half.”
Freshman guard Nike Sibande scored 20 points and classmate Jalen Adaway added 14 — 13 in the second half — to lead the RedHawks, but that wasn’t enough to overcome the Falcons’ torrid 69.6 field-goal percentage (16-of-23) while piling up 51 points after halftime.
“It really just seemed like they were getting good looks and the ball was falling for them,” Adaway said.
Demajeo Wiggins, Bowling Green’s 6-10, 240-pound junior forward, led both teams with 22 points and 15 rebounds, the most rebounds by any RedHawks’ opponent this season.
“His points hurt us,” Miami first-year coach Jack Owens said. “His rebounds hurt us, but his five assists really hurt us.”
Sophomore guard Dylan Frye added 16, Caldwell finished with 12 – including the jumper that forged the last of eight tie scores, 45-45, with 14:16 left in the game – and freshman guard-forward Daeqwon Plowden scored 10 in a span of less than five minutes while the Falcons were taking control.
“Once again, we played a good first half,” Owens said. “We didn’t execute well offensively, but we did some good things defensively. In the second half, for that stretch from 14 minutes to eight minutes, we’ve got to figure things out. Who should be in? Who shouldn’t? It’s important that we figure things out.”
Miami was as cold as Bowling Green was hot for a key stage of the second, going 1-for-9 from the field while the Falcons were stringing together a 19-6 run that left them with the largest lead, 66-49, with 3:48 left in the game.
Adaway put together a personal 7-0 run with a layup, two free throws and a 3-pointer in less than a minute to cut the Falcons’ lead to seven points with 2:23 to go, but Bowling Green (12-6, 3-2) regrouped during a timeout and pulled away.
“I didn’t want Miami to lose,” Adaway said. “I hate losing. I wanted to try to do what I could to bring us back into it.”
Caldwell felt Miami kind of snuck up on the Falcons in their first encounter.
“We came in kind of cocky and they came in and played us tough and beat us,” said Caldwell, who had members of his family and some friends at the game. “That was a wakeup call for us. We knew we had to clamp down and get our game in gear.”
The RedHawks fell behind, 12-5, while missing 10 of their first 15 shots. They rebounded to sink seven of their last 13 and grabbed their first lead, 15-14, behind five straight points from sophomore forward Bam Bowman and Sibande’s 3-pointer with 12:33 left in the first half.
Miami (9-9, 2-3) is in the middle of a run of six home games out of eight, which is due to continue on Saturday when Ball State arrives in Oxford for a 3:30 p.m. game. The Cardinals, are 12-6 overall and 3-2 in the MAC after beating Central Michigan 82-76 on Tuesday.