Broncos Battle Past Flashes For First Road Win at Kent State Since 2003
Western Michigan (7-15, 3-6 MAC) cruised through the opening 12 and a half minutes of the game, but then hit a road block it couldn't overcome until the first three minutes into the second half.
A.J. Johnson sparked the Brown & Gold out of the gates, burying three triples to help WMU build an early double digit lead. Miracle Woods hit a layup with 7:25 left in the first to put Western Michigan up, 24-10, and then the offense went stagnant. The Broncos didn't score again the rest of the half, closing with 0-for-11 shooting. Kent State, meanwhile, was able to go on a 12-0 run and trailed by just two at halftime, 24-22.
Kent State (3-19, 1-8 MAC) made its first three shots of the second half and WMU missed its first three, allowing the Golden Flashes to take a 28-24 lead. From there, the lead changed hands four times and was tied on four occasions. Neither team could build more than a two-possession advantage until a double-foul that required an official's look at the monitor became a turning point for the Broncos.
With WMU leading 39-38 with less than nine minutes to play, the Broncos' Aurielle Anderson collided with Kent State's Amber Dunlap while guarding Dunlap on the far wing. Anderson was initially whistled for a reach in, however a review that caused a lengthy stoppage in play showed that Dunlap had retaliated with an elbow swing. The result was a double-foul, a personal against Anderson and a technical foul against Dunlap. Dunlap first shot a one-and-one, missing on the front end, and WMU received a pair of free throws and the ball.
Johnson stepped up and knocked down both free throws and Anderson scored a layup on the ensuing possession. Amber Evans converted a bucket in the paint KSU's next trip down the floor and in a reversal of the first half, Western Michigan held Kent State scoreless the rest of the game. The Flashes did their part to help, missing their last five free throws and final nine field goals.
"That technical really fired our team up," said WMU head coach Shane Clipfell.
"I thought we played well except for a seven to eight minute stretch there in the first half, when we adjusted the rotation and that was my mistake.
"We fixed it in the second half, and Miracle and Marquisha battled like two warriors. They grinded out there against bigger bodies, they went toe-to-toe, and I think they won that battle."
The low-post play of Woods and Harris kept Western Michigan afloat through the first 10 minutes of the second half, as the two combined for all 11 of WMU's points.
Both players finished the game with double-doubles. Woods totaled 16 points and 13 rebounds (career highs) while Harris had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Johnson was the game's leading scorer with 19 points and shot 4-for-9 from behind the arc. Her fourth three was the back-breaker, coming on the fast break at the end of the game.
The Bronco defense limited Kent State's top offensive threat Tamzin Barroilhet to two points, eight below her season average. No one scored in double figures for the Golden Flashes. Trisha Krewson had a team-best nine points.
Western Michigan controlled the glass, 45-37, and outscored Kent State 15-4 on second-chance points and 22-11 off turnovers. Both teams shot around 33 percent from the field.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak against the Flashes and was WMU's first against Kent State since posting a 66-59 victory in Kalamazoo on Jan. 26, 2008. It was the Broncos first road win at Kent since Jan. 8, 2003.
Western Michigan hosts Bowling Green (15-7, 6-3 MAC) Sunday at 2 p.m. It will be the annual Pink/Play 4Kay Game in support of breast cancer awareness. Fans are encouraged to wear pink and can make donations towards the cause at: www.play4kay.org/WMUBroncos.
GAME NOTES: Western Michigan's win halted a three-game losing streak that started at Buffalo, Jan. 26, and was the Broncos' third road victory of the season ... it was WMU's largest MAC victory since defeating Miami by 19 (83-64) on Feb. 12, 2011 ... the double-doubles by Woods and Harris were the third career for each ... Harris' three double-doubles have all come in the last six contests - MAC games ... current WMU assistant coach Kristin Koetsier was on the last Bronco squad to record a victory at Kent State ... it was just WMU's seventh ever win at Kent State.