BOWLING GREEN, Ohio The Michigan basketball team came to Bowling Green seeking its first road win under new coach Tommy Amaker.
But when the buzzer sounded and the orange sea of Falcon faithful swarmed the court, it was clear that the Wolverines who entered the game as five-point underdogs were once again losers on the road, 65-59.
With 29 seconds remaining and his team up 60-58, guard Keith McLeod iced the game with a 3-point bomb as the shot clock was running out. The ball rolled all the way around the rim before finally finding its home at the bottom of the net.
“It was in, it was out,” Amaker said. “I thought it was out.”
But McLeod, who also tallied a career-high nine assists, never had any doubt.
“I don”t shoot to hope,” McLeod said with a smile. “I shoot to make.”
On the previous possession, Michigan called timeout and set up an inbounds play to tie the game.
But the Wolverines failed to execute at the most critical of points and sophomore forward Bernard Robinson was forced to heave an awkward shot as the shot clock ran out.
“There”s no excuse for that,” said senior tri-captain Chris Young. “We work on that stuff all the time in practice. We have a lot to work on.”
Nine minutes into the game, Amaker dug into his bag of tricks by sitting Young and throwing a small lineup at the Falcons, giving Michigan the defensive spark it needed. The change resulted in a couple of steals by Robinson and freshman Chuck Bailey led to easy transition buckets for the Wolverines.
Michigan held Bowling Green to just three points over a six-and-a-half minute span in the first half with the small lineup.
When Young returned to action at the 7:06 mark, Michigan held its largest lead of the night at 28-18.
But the Falcons answered immediately with four consecutive layups, and the Wolverines headed to the lockerroom with a slim 34-30 edge.
Michigan returned to the shorter squad several times throughout the game to rest Young, because sophomore center Josh Moore did not play.
“I thought it was a very difficult matchup for Josh to be in,” Amaker said. “With the way their offense is structured with so many screens by their big men away from the basket, we were concerned.”
In Moore”s absence, senior tri-captain Rotolu Adebiyi (6-foot-4) saw time at the center spot, showcasing the Wolverines lack of depth at that position.
The second half started out ugly for Michigan on offense as the Wolverines committed seven turnovers and scored zero points in the first five minutes.
Finally, with seven minutes to play, Michigan found its offensive touch. Blanchard led the charge for the Wolverines with 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting. His leaner off the high glass was the highlight of an 8-0 Michigan run that gave it a 54-50 advantage late in the game.
But in the final minutes, the Wolverines couldn”t hang on amid the roof-shaking screams of the sellout crowd.
“A lot of coaches a lot of our coaching heroes have cancelled with teams, meaning “I”m not going to Bowling Green in my first year.” That was never an issue for Tommy (Amaker) or (Michigan”s) athletic director, and I think that”s a very classy thing,” Bowling Green coach Dan Dakish said. “They had to know that this was going to be a tough place for them to win.”