Bowling Green senior guard and leading scorer Keith McLeod came into Worthen Arena Wednesday night on a mission. Unable to get much help from his teammates, his mission went unaccomplished.
McLeod came into the game averaging 23.1 points per game and dropped 36 on the Cardinals. In the first half he went 7-16 from the field, including 2-4 from three-point range and 3-4 from the charity stripe. His 19 points were enough to keep it close going into the locker room, as Ball State held a slim two-point advantage at 38-36.
He led the Bowling Green charge in the second half, throwing in another 17 points. He was the iron man of the Bowling Green squad, playing all 40 minutes.
The turning point for McLeod and the Falcons seemed to come at the 7:36 mark of the second half. Trailing the Cardinals 59-57, McLeod was fouled on a three-point attempt. He went to the foul line with a chance to give the Falcons the lead, but he missed all three shots. About a minute prior, McLeod had been at the line for three shots and nailed all of them to give Bowling Green the lead at 57-56.
Down the stretch it seemed as if most of the pressure for Bowling Green to score was on McLeod's shoulders. When asked if McLeod may have been feeling too much pressure down the stretch, teammate Len Matela said,"I don't think it bothered him. He loves the pressure; he really enjoys it."
With 3:38 to play and the game still in doubt, McLeod and Ball State guard Chris Williams went diving to the floor for a loose ball. After the whistle blew, Williams stood over McLeod. He then swung at Williams out of frustration, and Williams then fell to the floor. When asked about the incident with Williams, he said, "He did a little acting job."
He ended up the night shooting 11-27 from the field, including 4-11 from behind the arc and 10-14 from the foul line. Ball State point guard Petie Jackson said McLeod is a great player.
"He was kind of hard to guard; he was shooting the ball well," Jackson said. "It seemed like everything he shot went in, and that's a credit to him. My assignment was to stay in front of him, and if he was going to make tough shots with my hand in his face, then he was going to make tough shots."