There are no days off in the Mid-American Conference basketball season, and Central Michigan is well aware after their 92-85 loss at the hands of rival Western Michigan on Saturday. The Broncos rode hot shooting and 52 second half points to improve to 5-9 in conference and 2-0 against directional Michigan rivals. The Chippewas fall to 7-7 and find themselves a full two games back of MAC West division leading Ball State.
Saturday's contest featured absolutely no shortage of offensive fire power, with a total of nine players from either team ending in double figures. What it did lack was defense, particularly from Central Michigan who allowed WMU to shoot 56 percent from the field on the afternoon. The Chippewas were no slouch, hitting shots at a rate of 47 percent themselves, but it was not enough to overcome the flurry of Bronco baskets. Leading the way for the Broncos and all scorers was the always spectacular Thomas Wilder who ended with 26 points and seven assists. However, the sophomore guard an potential All-MAC selection had plenty of company on the other side in CMU's Chris Fowler, who nearly met Wilder step for step the entire afternoon.
Things started off quite well for the Chippewas as they controlled the run of play for a majority of the first half. They did so behind strong back court play from Fowler and team mate Braylon Rayson. Fowler bested Wilder in the first stanza, leading all scorers at the break with 13 points, and was followed closely by Rayson with 10. Also providing a huge spark for the Chippewas was Darohn Scott, whose pair of offensive boards and eight points helped CMU hold a 44-40 lead at the end of the first 20 minutes. The recently slumping Tucker Haymond actually led Western Michigan with 12 points at the half, and was joined in double figures by Wilder. Freshman Josh Davis was able to lift the Broncos off the bench with five points of his own on two of three shooting.
The Broncos wasted little time in eliminating the four point deficit held by Central Michigan. With less than five minutes gone from the second half game clock, WMU had erased the deficit and gained a lead of their own - one that would never return to Central. Helping to make the lead permanent was the hot shooting - particularly inside the arc - from a host of Broncos, at one point hitting 70 percent for the half. Wilder led the way with 15 points, but the biggest performance of the half undoubtedly came from the play at the rim by Drake Lamont. Lamont netted 12 of his 18 total points in the second stanza, missing only a single shot from the field for the entire game. Haymond was a bit quieter in the second half, however still ending with 19 points, but was picked up by freshman team mate Bryce Moore who found his way into double figures with 10 points and three assists on four of eight shooting.
The duel between Wilder and Fowler was an entertaining one all afternoon. Each guard could seemingly score at will on two squads that appeared to have little interest in playing defense at times. It was Fowler and CMU, however, that ran out of gas first, and despite having a good shooting day by most accounts, came up short against their arch rivals from Kalamazoo. The Broncos still have only a single win on the road - a win at Bowling Green - but have been fantastic at home, thus keeping them competitive in the chase for a first round home game to start the MAC Tournament.
Western Michigan will look to clinch a winning record in Michigan MAC competition Tuesday at Eastern Michigan. The Chippewas will host Northern Illinois in a make or break contest for seeding between the two squads.
|Points||T. WIlder (26)||C. Fowler (22)|
|Rebounds||2 tied (7)||C. Scott (6)|
|Assists||T. Wilder(7)||R. Simmons (6)|
|Blocks||3 tied (1)||2 tied (1)|
|Steals||T. Wilder (1)||J. Simons (2)|