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2016-17 MAC Men’s Basketball Recap: Central Michigan Chippewas at Western Michigan Broncos

Broncos too much for a 2 man show

NCAA Basketball: Central Michigan at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

The Western Michigan Broncos came into the game needing to win to have a shot at a top 4 seed in the MAC tournament, and the first round bye that comes with it. They were also riding a 7 game winning streak.

On the other side of the court, the Central Michigan Chippewas were trending to the other way, having lost 6 in a row. One bright spot for the Chippewas, Marcus Keene came in averaging 29.4 points per game, good enough to be tops in the nation. To be the first player to finish a season averaging 30 per game in 20 years, he needed 49 points, which was under his season high.

1st Half

Keene and Braylon Rayson led the Chippewas early, combining for all 8 of the Chippewas points at the first break in the action with 16 minutes left in the half. Thomas Wilder led the Broncos with 4 of their 6.

Both teams looked tight and missed shots they would normally make.

After the first timeout, Western Michigan went on a roll, taking the lead 20-16. They exploited some match-ups, and the effort just wasn’t there for CMU on defense. Wilder accounted for 11 of those 20.

When Central Michigan knotted it up at 20 a few minutes later, Keene fittingly had 11 of the Chippewas points.

Brandon Johnson then worked the offensive glass, and put the Broncos up 24-20. Keene then heated up and tied up at 24 apiece with 8:08 to play. A large reason why was the Broncos started taking terrible shots against a terrible defense.

Western Michigan responded to the ass chewing, and started taking better shots to take the league. Then Braylon Rayson showed why the two 5’9 guards for Central Michigan are must watch TV. After hitting a 2 pointer in traffic, he converted on 4 three pointers in a row, each getting a little more ridiculous than the previous. The 4 three pointers came within 1:22.

Tucker Haymond was warm for the Broncos, and was able to keep them in the game, and were down 41-37 at the media timeout with 3 minutes to go.

The Broncos took a timeout with 1:04 left, and up one. Thomas Wilder was then called for an offensive foul. It was like the 7th of the game, most going against CMU.

The score at the break remained unchanged, Western Michigan 44, Central 43.

Generally, I will just mention the top two or three scorers for each team. Since it’s the last game of the regular season, I am going to list all the scorers for the Chippewas. Rayson had 22, Keene 17, and Cecil Williams had 4.

Haymond had 16 and Wilder 14 for the Broncos. Johnson added 8 points and 4 rebounds.

The Broncos out rebounded the Chippewas, 21-15

2nd Half

At the first TV timeout, Western Michigan was leading 53-50. The score was tied at 50 when Wilder put the ball back and forth between his legs and drilled a three as the shot clock wound down. He then looked at Keene and said something. I like to think he said, “I just pulled a Marcus”.

The Broncos came back from the break shooting two free throws. Johnson made one, and Drake LaMont got the rebound on the second and got the put back. That started a WMU run, and they went up 58-50 before Central Michigan called a timeout with 15:02 left in the game.

Western Michigan surged to a lead, but Central Michigan is never out of a game until it’s over. Keene scored 8 in a row before Jarrin Randall and Bryce Moore scored, putting the lead to 66-57 for Western Michigan, with 11:20 to go. Moore then hit a a long jumper and had a block at the other end. WMU was up 68-59.

Even though WMU wasn’t scoring on their own end after that, Keene and Rayson couldn’t get the jumpers to drop. It was a double edged sword for the Broncos. Not only were they not losing ground, Wilder and Haymond were getting a much needed rest.

After Jones hit a jumper and Randall scored from close, WMU was up 72-61 with 7:23 left. The large crowd could feel the win, and the top 4 seed and responded by rewarding the team with a standing ovation as the team came off the floor.

David DiLeo hit a three for CMU, and then Reggie Jones answered with a three of his own as the shot clock expired. DiLeo didn’t like that, and hit a three with LaMont in his face from 25. Haymond answered, with a three and his 22nd point on the night.

After some aggressive defensive play by both teams, Keene drove to the basket and missed with some contact. Western Michigan got the rebound and then Wilder drove to the bucket and got the foul as the ball rimmed out. He knocked down both.

Western Michigan was up 80-67 at the 3:55 break, and CMU was starting to show frustration.

As an Ohio kid, with no real pony in this race, I want to make a point at this point in the game. I thought WMU probably got a few calls up to this point of the game, and maybe CMU didn’t. If I were judging the refs, I would give them a B. Of course the home team got the benefit. It wasn’t egregious, and it certainly didn’t change the course of the game. It’s basketball, or sports. Home teams get the benefit, just like CMU has when they are at home. I also understand the frustration on CMU’s part, but it is what it is.

After the break, CMU went to the press. For the most part WMU handled it, but then took terrible shots as they were running the shot clock down. A couple of Rayson free throws put CMU down 8, which we all know means nothing. Then CMU made a steal and Rayson had a three that went in and out.

And then, the refs totally did the ref thing, and called a terrible charge on WMU with 1:22 left.

The Broncos got the ball back and Wilder got the long pass to put the Broncos up 83-72. Then the refs called a charge on Keene. The refs took an official review to see if Haymond was not in the arc. His heel was over, but it was hard to tell if his heel was on the ground, or in the air. We waited and waited with baited breath as they tried to decide.

They decided to call it a blocking foul.

Keene predictably dropped them both, to put the Chippewas within 9, with 1:02 left in the game.

Wilder made a nifty pass out of a double team to freshman Reggie Jones, and he was promptly fouled. Jones missed, but Keene missed at the other end, and the Chippewas put back fell off the rim, and another freshman was up for WMU. Johnson missed the first but made the second.

Rayson then missed the three, and Haymond got the rebound. The senior was at the line, with WMU up by 10. He rattled the first but made dropped, the second missed.

Keene then hit a three, putting the Chippewas down 8 with 24 seconds left. Of course the game is over, except Braylon Rayson and Marcus Keene are still on the floor.

Wilder was fouled, and then dropped a couple free throws, like you expect. CMU drove the length of the court in a few seconds and Keene dropped a three from 30 feet out on the logo, like you expect. 87-80, with 16 seconds. Game over? Probably, but you have to watch if Keene and Rayson are on the losing end.

True to their nature, CMU let senior Tucker Haymond get open, and then fouled him. Even worse, a whistle had to sound because two CMU players got in a fight. With each other. Let that sink in.

Game over, in so many ways.

Final Score

Western Michigan 88, Central Michigan 80.

Wilder had 27 for the Broncos, and Haymond added 24. Freshman Johnson added 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Keene scored 37 and Rayson had 26 for the Chippewas.