KALAMAZOO -- David Kool scored 20 points with six rebounds and five assists, while Flenard Whitfield added a career-high 19 points, six rebounds and two steals as No. 7 Western Michigan defeated No. 10 Bowling Green, 75-73, in the first round of the 2010 FirstEnergy MAC Tournament on Sunday in front of 1,786 at University Arena.
The Broncos (17-14) advance to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland to play second-seeded Central Michigan at noon on Thursday, March 11.
After eight consecutive lead changes, Wolf found Kool on the right wing for a three-pointer to put the Broncos in front for good on the 13th lead change of the game, 64-62, with 7:21 to play. Whitfield followed with a tip-in to give the Broncos their largest lead, 66-62, with 5:53 to play.
Bowling Green hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to one, but then Wolf found Kool for another three-pointer to keep the margin at four, 69-65, with 4:38 to play. The Falcons made a lay-up with 2:59 showing, but Donald Lawson tipped in a missed front end of a one-and-one with 2:31 to go to put WMU back up four, 71-67. The Falcons hit a free throw with 2:09 to play, but then no one scored until Douglas knocked down two free throws with 18 seconds remaining to put WMU up five, 73-68.
The Falcons (14-16) closed within three with 13 seconds to go, but missed a tying three-pointer with 13 seconds left and then Douglas hit two more free throws with five seconds left to put the game out of reach.
The Broncos missed their first five shots and the Falcons made their first three and two freebies to open the game 8-0. Western Michigan came back with a 10-4 run to cut the lead to two, 12-10, after McLemore's second three-pointer with 13:28 to play. The Falcons continued to pick apart the WMU defense and built a nine-point advantage, 21-12, after a 9-2 run capped by a fast break lay-up with 11:06 to play.
The Broncos got a three-pointer from Alex Wolf in the right corner, but Bowling Green countered with four in a row to take a 10-point lead, 25-15, with 9:08 to play after an offensive put-back. Mike Douglas converted after an offensive rebound by the Broncos and then Kool connected on a three-pointer to pull WMU within five, 25-20, with 7:37 to go. The Falcons still couldn't be stopped and went back up nine, 31-22, with 5:47 on the clock.
A three-pointer by McLemore and two Wolf free throws after being fouled on the fast break pulled WMU within four, 31-27, but Bowling Green continued its hot shooting to keep the lead at seven, 36-29, with 4:16 to play.
The Broncos made another rally as Whitfield hit a mid-range jumper and Wolf converted on the fast break after a steal by Demetrius Ward to make it a three-point game, 36-33, with 3:36 to go. The Broncos started to get stops, but missed two triples and committed a turnover before BG hit one free throw. The Broncos got back on the scoreboard with McLemore's fourth three-pointer of the half and then Whitfield went the distance after a steal to give WMU its first lead, 38-37, with 18 seconds to go. Bowling Green quickly inbounded the ball and scored a lay-up at the other end to regain the lead at halftime, 39-38.
The Falcons cooled down to shoot 68.0 percent (17-25) in the first half after shooting over 70 percent for much of the half. The Falcons scored 22 points in the paint and out-rebounded WMU, 13-8, mostly because there were so few missed shots. The Broncos countered by shooting 48.1 percent (13-27), including six three-pointers. The Broncos also had four steals and forced six turnovers for an 8-4 edge in points off turnovers.
The Falcons scored the first points of the half, but then Douglas scored on a drive and then dished to Kool on an inbounds play for a jumper that gave WMU the lead, 42-41, with 17:16 to play. The Falcons countered with five points in a row to regain the lead, 46-42, with 15:53 remaining.
The Falcons still led by four, 50-46, when Whitfield drove the lane and completed the three-point play. After a bucket by BG, Ward hit two free throws after getting an offensive rebound and then hit a three-pointer on the left wing to give WMU the lead, 54-52, with 11:47 remaining and start a stretch of nine straight scores that each resulted in a lead change to set up the end of the game.
The Broncos shot 46.3 percent (25-54) from the field, 9-of-24 (.375) behind the arc and 16-of-18 at the free throw line (.889), while the Falcons shot 59.2 percent (29-49), 8-of-12 from three and 7-of-12 at the free throw line.
WMU overcame BG's shooting, by turning 14 offensive rebounds into a 17-9 advantage in second chance points. The Broncos also had only six turnovers, while forcing 10 by BGSU.
Scott Thomas led all players with 23 points for the Falcons, while Marc Larson added 12 points and 11 rebounds as BGSU had four players score 10 or more.