Broncos Outgun Saints in Final Exhibition
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Western Michigan men's basketball team concluded its 2013-14 exhibition season on Monday, as the Broncos defeated the Aquinas College Saints 69-54 at University Arena. The Broncos will open their 2013-14 regular season against New Mexico State on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 1:30 a.m. in the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Rainbow Classic hosted by Hawaii.
Shayne Whittington led all players in the game with 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field, also grabbing seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. David Brown also reached double figures in scoring, adding 11 points and four boards. The Broncos received scoring contributions from 11 different players and out-rebounded the Saints 40-34 in the game.
WMU pulled away from Aquinas in the second half by doing a good job protecting the basketball; the Broncos committed just two turnovers in the second half compared to nine in the first half, all while notching eight assists in the second period. Whittington scored 16 of his 22 points in just 12 minutes of play in the second half, and the Broncos outscored the Saints 9-0 to open the half to take a 15-point lead. Whittington capped the run with an and-one make, drawing a foul from Zac Vanbeek at the 16:15 mark and making the lay-up. Whittington contributed to the Broncos taking a 47-30 lead later in the half when he kicked out a pass from the paint to a wide-open Brown, who drilled a three-pointer from the shallow right wing to extend the lead.
Aquinas went on a 13-5 run of its own to pull within nine points of the Broncos, with Brett Pfhaler making a pair of free throws at the 8:23 mark to cut down WMU's lead. Whittington stretched it back out though, taking an inlet pass from Austin Richie at the 5:43 mark and knocking down the jump hook to make it a 57-43 game, and took an alley-oop pass from Connar Tava on the very next possession and threw it down for the dunk to make it a 16-point game. The lead went all the way to 19 points when Richie grabbed a defensive board at the 4:37 mark and drove it the opposite way, throwing up a looping lay-up while being fouled to get the and-one play; Richie made the free throw to make it 62-43. The high water mark came with 2:31 to play, when AJ Avery lobbed an oop pass of his own to Mario Matasovic, who made the bucket to give WMU a 67-43 advantage and capped a 15-0 Bronco run.
The first half of the game played much tighter than the second, with the Broncos and Saints scrapping for points to start. The Broncos opened on a 5-0 run over the first 4:21 of play, with Brown drilling a three-pointer at the 19:10 mark to set the opening edge. Aquinas took the lead with a 6-0 run in response, however, as Jake Bullock made a lay-up at the 14:10 mark to put the Saints up 7-6.
WMU re-took the lead with 9:04 left to play in the period, when Kellen McCormick drained the second of his two three-point baskets from the right wing, making it a 13-10 advantage for the Broncos. The last Saint lead came with less than two minutes to play in the half, when Austin Semple hit an NBA-ranged three-pointer from the head of the key, but Tava scored lay-ups on back-to-back possessions to give the Broncos a 26-25 edge with 41 seconds left in the half, and Brown converted three free throws with two seconds to play to make it a six-point game.