Sometimes you can have a career night. Sometimes that night gets you on SportsCenter. For Tucker Haymond, he had both in the Western Michigan Broncos' 91-71 win over the Buffalo Bulls.
The Broncos came out red-hot, jumping out to a 17-2 lead before the Bulls knew what hit them. When Buffalo started to respond, Haymond continued the explosion, with this put-back slam
Tucker Haymond (@ThunderTuck) with the #SCtop10 for @WMUMBB. pic.twitter.com/pT5XiRMfVn— Mike Monaco (@MikeMonaco_) January 23, 2016
and a three ball to give WMU a 25-10 lead. Steve Hawkins' squad would get their biggest lead at 43-23 after a three by Bryce Moore, before Nate Oats' team would be able to close the gap to 48-30 at the half.
While the Bulls would come out of the half on a 7-1 run, they would be quickly outdone by the Broncos' 16-5 run behind solid play from Haymond and Thomas Wilder. And while Buffalo clawed to stay in the game, the dynamic duo from Western Michigan kept the game out of reach, with WMU getting as high a lead as 70-45 before the Bulls put on a press to close the gap to 15 once over the final 9 minutes. As the Broncos hit their free throws, they were able to coast to the 91-71 victory.
Haymond and Wilder paced the Broncos' offense with 27 and 20 points respectively. While Wilder got 11 of his points from the free throw line, Haymond shot the lights out, going 9-for-14 from the field and 5-for-8 from beyond the arch en route to setting a new career high for points. Bryce Moore finished with 15 points as well. The team as a whole shot well from the three-point line, going 13-for-21 (62%) for the game.
Conversely, the Bulls shot a paltry 22% from beyond the arch as they struggled to find offense for most of the game. They were led by Willie Conner and his 17 points. Blake Hamilton added 11 points, and led all players with 8 rebounds in the game. Nick Perkins had a decent game, going 6-for-10 from the floor in a 13 point outing before fouling out late in the game.
"Things look a lot different when everyone's scoring," Hawkins said after the game. "We did not let (Buffalo) back into the game, and (the hot start) let some of the young guys relax and play their game." And while the coach was happy with the win, he noted the need to keep focus even if the shooting isn't going, saying "the challenge is getting the guys to focus when we're having an off night and keeping up the intensity to get a win."
For the Broncos they remain at home through a home-heavy schedule in the first half of MAC play. They'll face a solid Bowling Green team on Tuesday. Haymond noted how helpful it is to play in front of a friendly crowd without much travel in terms of maturing a young squad.
"This year we have three freshman on the court, and a couple sophomores," the junior swingman said. "These guys are playing bigger roles and it's tough, but these home games are helping those (young) guys get used to the flow. Conference play is on another level. These games are more intense and crowds are more intense, especially on the road. Getting this confidence under our belt at home, especially with these young guys, should have us ready for (the road games)."
For the Bulls, they head back to Buffalo to take on an equally shocking team in Ball State that same day.
|Points||T. Haymond (27)||W. Conner (17)|
|Rebounds||Two tied (5)||B. Hamilton (8)|
|Assists||D. Lamont (5)||J. Skeete (4)|
|Blocks||S. Dugan (3)||CJ Massinburg (2)|
|Steals||T. Haymond (2)||Two tied (1)|