When Western entered their 3 game home-stand 9 days ago, they stood at 1-7, with their lone win over Hope College. 3 games later, the Broncos sit at 4-7, and have been winning despite seemingly losing a man per game over the last 4 games (Mike Douglas seems to be back to normal however).
Their latest win? Over the Winthrop Eagles. You know, the same Winthrop Eagles that have been seemingly dominating the Big South over the past few years and knocked off Notre Dame a couple years back? Ok, so they aren't as good as their former selves, but its still a program with a ton of recent success. Western did it without Flenard Whitfield, David Brown, and lost another player in the game tonight as well. We'll get to that later.
This game had a very boring feel to it, like the Southern Illinois game had. Very tough defenses, burn offenses, lots of fouls. You know, the games you hate to watch until the last 5 minutes? Yeah, made me mad that I had to miss the 85-70 something game but caught the "first to 60 wins" games on this home-stand. *sigh*
Lets fast forward to 3 minutes to go in the 1st half. Hayden Hoerdemann just hit his first 3 ball of the night to give the Broncos a 25-17 lead (See? Told you it was a burn game). Winthrop sinks 4 free throws and a jumper in the next two minutes to make it a 25-23 game at the half. They then come out and make a lay-up and 3. An 11-0 run had the Eagles with a 3-pt lead with 18:33 to go. That would be the last time they would lead the game.
WMU proceeded to go on a 10-0 run starting at the 16:03 mark with a Shayne Whittington "And-1" play, and capped by a Hoerdemann 3 at the 12:33 mark.
After Winthrop hit 2 of 4 FTs and hit a lay-up to pull within 3 with 10:30 to go, WMU went on a 13-4 run to take their largest lead of the game at 12 points with just under 6 minutes to go. The next 3 minutes would see just 9 points: a Winthrop layup and 3 pointer followed by a Mike Douglas layup and pair of Austin Richie FTs. 3 minutes to go, 11 point game, 52-41
Then things got crazy.
Back-to-back 3's by the Eagles made it a 52-47 game with 2 minutes to go. After Mike Douglas got called for a charge on the next Bronco possession, a tip-in on a missed 3 made it a 3 point game with just a minute to go.
On the next Bronco possession, Demetrius Ward finally did what Western seemingly were scared to do all night: post up and go one-on-one against his defender. His lay-up made it a 5 point game again with 45 seconds to go. On the ensuing possession, Matt Stainbrook fouled a Winthrop player on what seemed like a ticky tack call. No biggie, the most the Eagles can do is make it a 3 point game again. Wrong. Stain decides to argue the call and gets the Tech.
With the opportunity to pull within 1 with just 21 seconds to go, Andre Jones, the leading Eagle scorer, misses the first of 4 FTs, but makes the rest. Mike Douglas would make both his FTs on the ensuing foul, and after a missed 3 by Winthrop, Douglas' FTs sealed the game for the Broncos.
As I said before, Western lost another player in this game. Brandon Pokley got his first career start after having a great game on Saturday, but played only 9 minutes. He wasn't shooting too great to begin with, and was seen walking on crutches and in a walking boot and street clothes mid-way through the 2nd half. The severity is not known, but that is another loss in a line-up already depleted. Luckily the Broncos were able to overcome this loss and get a much needed W heading into their last two games of the calendar year.