Broncos down New Mexico State 70-64 in Rainbow Classic opener

Austin Richie had a hot hand Saturday morning in the Broncos' 70-64 victory over New Mexico State - Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Western Michigan Broncos put up a gutty performance Saturday early morning against tournament favorite New Mexico State, earning a tough victory despite a size and time disadvantage.

I'm now going to do what I don't think anyone else has done in Hustle Belt history:  a 4:30 am game recap.  Bear with me.

Just like the Western Michigan Bronco men's basketball team, I must brave a vast time disparity and (admittedly), a bit of a talent disadvantage (hockey is my thing).

Maybe I'll channel my inner David Brown.

Brown played like a man possessed against the much taller Aggie team, stretching the floor and driving the lane.  He shot a paltry 8-16 from the floor, including two huge three's to start the game.  He finished with a stout 25 point, 5 rebound, 2 assist performance as the "main guy", with starting center Shayne Whittington suspended for the first two games of the season.

Maybe I can step up like Kellen McCormick.

He had a huge 14 point, 4 rebound performance in Whittington's place tonight.  He also had the tough job to defend 7' 5" Aggie center Sim Bhullar.  Bhullar only managed 9 points and 6 rebounds while fellow forward Tshilidzi Nephawe had a more manageable 18 point, 8 rebound performance.  Again, both are about 7 foot tall.  McCormick is 6-9 on a very good day.

It's cold in my room, I need a hot hand like Austin Richie.

He finished 3/3 from the floor, all three-pointers.  He hit the double-digit mark with a free-throw late in the game, but only managed 2 assists tonight.  He and Brown got great help from Jared Klein off the bench, with a 9 point performance from him as well.

In the end, 5 Bronco players finished with 4 fouls.  Their gutty performance on a shorter bench in spite of foul trouble led to a signature win for Western Michigan early in the season.  Brown, Richie, McCormick, and sophomore forward Connar Tava all played 29+ minutes and three of the above players were among those 5 Broncos aforementioned.

While the Aggies, who made the NCAA tournament last season, got to the line more often (40 free-throw attempts to 20), the Broncos converted on their chances, shooting 80% from the stripe versus a 62.5% mark for New Mexico State.  Western Michigan also made 40% (10/25) of their three-pointers against a mere 1/11 mark from their counterparts.

Up next?  Bed, for everyone.  The Broncos will be back at it tomorrow at 12:30 AM EST against Rainbow Classic hosts Hawaii, who downed Tennessee State 85-55 in the first game of the tournament.  You can watch the game online at BigWest.TV.

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