Broncos Survive Miami, Advance to Cleveland

By Published: 3/7/2017 7:21:26 AM Custom Tag

Courtesy: Western Michigan Athletics

KALAMAZOO, Mich.- The No. 5 seeded Western Michigan men's basketball team hung on for a 65-61 win over No. 12 seed Miami in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament Monday night. The Broncos advance to Cleveland to face No. 4 seed Ball State Thursday, March 9 in the quarterfinals.

The win was the Broncos' ninth in a row, one shy of tying the school record win streak of 10 set by the storied 1976 team that is regarded as one of the best ever to suit up in the Brown & Gold. After starting this season with a 6-14 record Western Michigan (16-15) has won 10 of its last 11 games.

Western Michigan didn't have the game handed to them, as the Broncos trailed the RedHawks by seven at halftime, 35-28, and by as many as nine at the start of the second half. WMU never led by more than two possessions.

"It's tournament time in the MAC," said WMU head coach Steve Hawkins. "You don't need a lot more evidence to see the parity in this league other than tonight's game; and if you had watched less than a week ago this same Miami team beat No. 1 seed Akron at Akron.

"They played a really small lineup and disrupted us, we had 15 turnovers, but ultimately our size really helped us. We out-rebounded them 40-29 and held them to 33 percent shooting in the second half. We had a chance to have this be a 10-15 point game but we couldn't knock down free throws and missed some layups right at the rim."

Western Michigan got to the free-throw line 23 times and had nine misses. Miami only shot eight free throws and made five. The Broncos shot 46.9 percent from the floor in the game and made five three's.

WMU didn't take the lead for good until under nine minutes remaining in the game. Trailing by one, Thomas Wilder sparked a 7-0 run that helped the Broncos pull in front. Freshman Reggie Jones hit a runner in the lane to get things started then Wilder knocked down a triple and found Tucker Haymond on the break for a layup.

The Broncos kept just enough distance to stay ahead in the final minutes. After missing a pair of free throws with six seconds left Jones regrouped and buried two with 2.9 seconds remaining to push WMU's lead to four, 65-61.

Haymond led Western Michigan with 16 points and six rebounds, followed by Wilder with 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Jones had 13 points and eight rebounds. Bryce Moore chipped in 11 points.

Miami had three players score in double figures. Abdoulaye Harouna had a team-high 15 points. Michael Weathers recorded 14 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. The RedHawks conclude the season with an 11-22 overall record.
Published: 3/7/2017 7:21:26 AM Custom Tag