Broncos Bounce BGSU From MAC Tourney; Win 67-56
CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Western Michigan men's basketball team produced strong runs at the beginning of both the first and second halves, and had three players reach double-digits in scoring in defeating the Bowling Green State Falcons 67-56 in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament on Thursday.
The win improves the Broncos to 20-11 overall in 2010-11, giving WMU head coach Steve Hawkins the fourth 20-win season of his career. It is now the eighth 20-win season in program history. The Falcons end their season with a 14-19 record.
With the win, the Broncos enter the MAC Tournament semifinals, and will take on the winner of Akron - Miami (OH). The semifinal game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, March 11.
The Broncos' defense was able to control Bowling Green's perimeter shooting, as they held the Falcons to just 1-for-12 (.083) from three-point range. WMU also did an exceptional job in turning miscues into points; the Broncos outscored the Falcons 15-4 on points off turnovers and 8-2 on fast break points. The Broncos turned the ball over just eight times, compared to 13 turnovers for the Falcons.
Offensively, the Broncos had three players reach double-digits in scoring; Demetrius Brown led the team with 14 points, and was joined by Flenard Whitfield (12) and Matt Stainbrook (10). Whitfield also notched a team-high 10 rebounds to give him his third double-double of the 2010-11 season and seventh of his career.
The Broncos controlled the tempo early on in the first half, opening the game on a 12-4 run with a combination of solid defense and a strong long-range attack. Junior guard Demetrius Ward nailed his first three three-point attempts to aid the run, and was part of a Broncos attack that went 5-of-10 (.500) from three-point range in the first half.
While Ward was doing the damage on the outside, Matt Stainbrook took control inside, drawing three Bowling Green fouls on and adding six points. Bowling Green would slice the lead to 20-17 on an A'uston Calhoun three, but the Broncos came back with a 10-0 run of their own, including two buckets from Flenard Whitfield and a three-pointer from Alex Wolf. That bucket gave the Broncos a 30-17, their largest of the half, and prompted the Falcons to burn a timeout with 4:26 remaining in the half.
The timeout seemed to spark the Falcons, who closed the first half on a 9-3 run to cut the lead to just 33-26. The Broncos were held scoreless for the final 3:57 of the first half in seeing their lead nearly halved. Part of that resurgence can be credited to improved rebounding by the Falcons; they controlled 17 caroms in comparison to just 12 for the Broncos.
Whitfield stopped the drought quickly in the second half, draining a short jumper to make it 35-26, then hitting a lay-up and drawing a foul two possessions later. Whitfield knocked down the foul shot to build the Bronco lead back to double-digits, and sparked what would be a 15-6 run for the Broncos to begin the second half. After BG's Dee Brown narrowed the lead with a jumper, Mike Douglas nailed his first "3" attempt of the game to give WMU a 41-30 lead at 17:09.
Things bogged down a bit for both teams, as the squads scored just a combined five points in the next five minutes of play. The Broncos were the first to recover from the malaise, and built their biggest lead of the day - 16 points, at 48-32 with 10:36 remaining - after buckets on consecutive possessions from Nate Hutcheson and Muhammed Conteh. The Falcons were held to just one field goal over a 5:40 span as the Broncos built up steam, and the Broncos ultimately kept the Falcons at arm's length in the second half.
The Broncos shot a respectable 42.6 percent for the game, and outrebounded the Falcons 34-33 overall. WMU also enjoyed a 16-to-8 assist-to-turnover ratio and shot 15-for-19 (.789) from the foul line.
Ward finished the game with 14 points, six rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Stainbrook, a product of nearby Lakewood St. Edward High School, recorded 10 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and one block in front of his hometown fans. Douglas had seven points, six assists, four blocks, and two steals.
NOTE: The Western Michigan Cheer & Dance Teams will be performing on Friday, March 11 from 2 - 3:30 p.m. at MAC FanFest, located at Tower City in Cleveland.
WMU Post-Game PC