Western Michigan University and Drake University jumped it up last night in Des Moines, Iowa for the first time since the teams started playing basketball. Both teams entered the game on the wrong end of a two game losing streak against teams that expected to win. (Drake to New Mexico State and Iowa; WMU to Northwestern and Missouri).
Drake hit nearly fifty percent of it's field goals (26-54) and made 15-19 from the charity stripe to escape with a 71-68 win. The Broncos faced a seven and a half hour bus ride back to Kalamazoo, plenty of time to think about what might have been.
"It sucks," said Bronco coach Steve Hawkins during his post game coaches show. " I really wish we had one more on the road because, I am concerned about the way we are defending on the road. We need to get this road thing solved. We just have to be tougher for forty minutes and play with more intensity."
The game was close the entire way with 22 lead changes and seven ties. Neither team ever was in danger of pulling away. Drake had it's largest lead (five) in the first half. The Broncos had an eight point lead nearly half way through the second but that was erased with back to back Bulldog buckets to keep the game within two possessions either way.
The Broncos had a pretty good night shooting from the field, canning 24-53 (.450 shooting percentage). They once again struggled from the foul line missing seven second half free throws and bricking 9 of 24 for the game .
The Broncos Shayne Whittington hit a bucket just before the half to give the Broncos a 36-33 lead going into the break. Drake answered, opening the second half on a 8-4 mini-run to retake the lead. The rest of the game was like a close tennis match ...back and forth, back and forth.
The MAC's leading scorer David Brown finished this one with 23 points. Sophomore Connar Tava knifed his way to 16 points and 9 boards and Whittington had 15. Taylor Perry, making his second start for injured Tucker Haymond, had a career high 11 boards.
The Broncos now come home for three straight with Prairieview A & M coming to University Arena on Saturday. Sienna and the conference opener against division favorite Toledo opens the new year.