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2016-17 MAC Men’s Basketball Recap: Western Michigan Broncos at Northern Illinois Huskies

Broncos get a huge road win to stay tied for the lead in the Wild MAC West

NCAA Basketball: Western Michigan at UCLA Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Western Michigan Broncos came into the game in tied for the lead in the West. The Northern Illinois Huskies were two games back, with two to go. Not only did they need to win out, they needed help.

1st Half

The score was tied at 9 apiece at the first timeout with 14 minutes and change left. Western Michigan then surged ahead, only to have the Huskies battle back.

The Broncos, led by Brandon Johnson, were able to surge back, and took a 10 point lead at the half, 39-29.

Johnson ended the half with 9 points and 5 rebounds.

Marin Maric, as he has for most of the year, led the Huskies with 8 points and 8 rebounds. Jaylen Key had 8 points off the bench for the Huskies.

2nd Half

The Broncos opened up the second half by missing shots and turning the ball over. The Huskies didn’t, and were able to close the gap to 41-39 by the first timeout.

Thomas Wilder was able to get a block at the top of the key, and then take the ball the length of the court. After a Huskie miss, the Broncos pushed it ahead and the Broncos were back up 45-39.

Drake LaMont still can’t use his right hand, but was able to pass out of the double team, and the Broncos got a good shot. LaMont got the rebound off the miss, and the Broncos converted. On the next trip down, LaMont got an easy look, and laid it up with his left. Western Michigan took the lead, 51-43, with 10:54 left. No pun intended.

Reggie Jones took a three that only the Ball family would think was a “good shot” but it went, so it was a good shot, and the Broncos went up 57-46.

Maybe the basketball Gods didn’t want that to stand, and NIU made a run, closing the gap to 57-51 before Tucker Haymond then hit a ridiculous shot in the lane, proving the basketball Gods reward the audacious.

Wilder then drove the lane and made it a 10 point lead with 6 minutes to go.

With 4:41 left, Tucker Haymond drove the lane and did some kind weird scoopy shot and was fouled. He hit the free throw, to put WMU up 64-51 and prove my point about fortune rewarding the brave.

Western Michigan had an 11 point lead with 3:38 to play. If Northern Illinois wanted to hope for a miracle and win the West, now was the time.

Maric hit a contested hook for his 17th point to cut the lead to 9. After a sloppy turnover by LaMont, he did a great job getting the defensive rebound, and Western Michigan had the ball with 2 minutes to go up by 8, looking for just their third road win on the season.

Eventually the ball ended up in Thomas Wilder’s hands with a minute to go, and he knocked down the three to seal the win.

Final Score

Western Michigan 70, Northern Illinois 56

The Broncos improved to 14-15 overall, and 10-7 in the conference. More importantly, they won their 7th in a row, and won just their third road game on the year. They host the Central Michigan Chippewas in their season finale.

The Huskies moved to 15-15 overall, and 7-10 in the conference. They travel to Muncie to take on the Ball State Cardinals.