From the start of the game until the last whistle, it was the Kellen McCormick show in Kalamazoo on Monday night. The six-foot-eight forward scored 31 points on 11-14 shooting from the field, including a 9-11 mark from the three point line in Western Michigan's too-close-for-comfort 85-73 victory over NAIA Rochester. That performance was a career high for the redshirt junior, bettering his previous career high of 14 points by a wide margin.
The Broncos had some trouble in the first half pulling away from Rochester as they only led by a single point at the half. The previously undefeated Warriors played admirably for an NAIA team coming into a hostile environment. Justin Nafso led Rochester in the first half with 14 points with most of his damage coming from behind the three point line.
Rochester's bench was its ultimate undoing as it combined only for 7 points on 2 for 11 shooting and 4 turnovers. The starting five combined to shoot 23 for 44 and showcased an impressive display behind the arc hitting 42 percent from the field. Nafso and Milton Cribbs really showed a complete effort being involved not only offensively but defensively with 13 rebounds and 3 steals.
In the second half it was more of the same early as the teams traded baskets with Western holding onto a 41-40 lead with 17 minutes left in the half. For the next five minutes of game time the teams struggled to score, combining for eight missed shots. The 11-minute mark is when the game proved too much for the Warriors, as the Broncos rattled off a 15-9 run. It didn't seem like too much at the time but the Broncos started to gain momentum and McCormick turned to fire from anywhere on the floor. The Broncos escaped a bad loss and did a good job of putting the game away during the last few minutes of the second half.
In the future, McCormick should get a chance to start after this superstar performance. Thomas Wilder contributed a solid game with 70 percent shooting from the field and making 7 free throws while doing most of his scoring late in the game to put it away.
Next up for Western is three games over the holidays against Stephen F. Austin, Liberty and Mercer. These games will be played in Nashville as part of the Music City Challenge event. In the past five years all three teams have competed well in their conferences and even have earned NCAA Tournament bids. It provides a good chance for Western to get three quality wins after losing earlier this year to DePaul and UNC Wilmington.
|Points||K. McCormick (31)||J. Nafso (23)|
|Rebounds||D. LaMont (6)||J. Nafso (7)|
|Assists||T. Wilder (4)||J. Nafso (7)|
|Blocks||Three tied (1)||Four tied (1)|
|Steals||T. Perry (2)||J. Nafso (3)|