Story courtesy of Western Michigan Sports Information
Western Michigan 54, High Point 53
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Austin Richie scored on a reverse lay-up under the hoop with five seconds remaining, and the Western Michigan men's basketball team held off a furious High Point charge as the Broncos defeated the Panthers 54-53 at University Arena. The win was the fifth straight for the Broncos, who improve to 5-1 on the season.
Western Michigan trailed 53-52 with 2:28 remaining as the Panthers went on a 6-0 run to re-take the lead in the second half. The teams exchanged misses on the offensive end, with Shayne Whittington grabbing a board at the 0:21 mark to give the Broncos possession. Head coach Steve Hawkins called a timeout as Richie took the ball in front of the Bronco bench with 14 seconds remaining, and Richie improvised off a broken play to drive to the hoop and spin a lay-up off the rim for the bucket. Dejuan McGaughy's desperation shot fell short, and Whittington picked up his tenth rebound to seal the win.
Both Brandon Pokley and Darius Paul had their fifth straight double-digit scoring efforts, notching 12 and 10 points for the the Broncos, respectively. Richie finished with seven points and four assists. Nate Hutcheson recorded a number of fantastic defensive plays, including three second-half blocks in transition; he also recorded nine points and two steals.
The Broncos fought off an early push from the Panthers to start the second half, with Hutcheson draining a three from the left wing to give WMU a 38-32 lead. High Point cut the lead to four pointson a three-pointer from Lorenzo Cugini at the 14:36 mark, and the Panthers made it a two-point game 30 seconds later with a lay-up from Dejuan McGaughy. High Point took a four-point lead with 10:09 remaining, but Jared Klein tied the score at 45 with a free throw at the 8:02 mark. Shayne Whittington broke through the Panthers' zone defense and threw down a baseline dunk at the 6:23 mark to tie the score at 47, and Pokley re-took the lead for the Broncos with a pair of free throw makes with 5:33 to go.
Hutcheson provided the Broncos the spark they needed to build up a two-possession lead in crunch team, though. After the Broncos turned the ball over on the offensive end, Hutcheson rushed down the court to break-up the transition lay-up from Haiishen McIntyre, recording his third block of the half to put the Broncos on the fast break. Brandon Pokley got the ball deep in the right corner and buried a three-pointer to make it 52-47, and forcing the Panthers into a timeout. The Panthers countered, however, using a 6-0 run to take the lead before Richie's heroics clinched the Bronco win.
Western Michigan showed little rust to start the game despite their 11-day layoff, opening on a 5-2 run and holding the lead through the early part of the first half. Paul gave the Broncos their first lead of the night when he knocked down a rhythm three-pointer from center court to make it 3-2, and Richie made a pair of free throws at the 18:01 mark. The Panthers briefly took a 6-5 lead, but Pokley buried a triple from the corner on the ensuing possession, and Connar Tava grabbed an offensive rebound and notched a tip-in to put the Broncos ahead 10-6. The lead eventually reached 10 points, with Taylor Perry nailing an open three-pointer from the right wing to make it 16-8, and Paul scoring on a turnaround jumper at the 10:56 mark to push the edge to ten points.
The Broncos kept the heat on the Panthers down the stretch, again building a 10-point lead when Nate Hutcheson took a pass on the baseline and went straight up for a two-handed dunk to make it 22-12. Jared Klein would continue the Broncos' offensive push when he drained a three-pointer from the left corner to make it 27-15 with 5:25 remaining, and the play went even further in the Broncos' favor when High Point's John Brown caught Tava with a flagrant foul after the shot; Tava made one of two free throws to give the Broncos a 13-point lead, and WMU retained possession. Charles Harris scored a lay-up on a fast break pass from Richie to make it a 30-17 game at the 3:21 mark, and Richie would follow with a long three-pointer from the right win to make it 33-19 little more than a minute later.