Broncos Open With 65-61 OT Loss To NMSU

FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- The Western Michigan University men's basketball team (0-1) opened its 2004-05 campaign with a 65-61 overtime loss to New Mexico State (1-0) Friday night at the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Western Michigan, which shot just 34.7 percent from the floor for the game and 25 percent in the first half, was led by senior forward Levi Rost's 17 points. Classmate Ben Reed chipped in 15 points and junior Brian Snider added 13.

The Broncos trailed by as many as eight points in the second half and rallied to force overtime on a 3-pointer by Rost in the closing seconds of regulation.

WMU will now face Portland in the second round of the tournament. The Pilots fell to Northwestern 56-53 at the buzzer in the first game Friday night. Game time is 6:30 p.m. ET.

The team's 28 3-point attempts on the night is the sixth-highest total in program history. Rost (3) was the only player to connect on more than one attempt from long distance.

WMU trailed 27-22 at the half after converting on just 9-of-36 opportunities from the floor. Rost, Reed and Snider all picked up two fouls and were forced to sit extended periods of time. That allowed newcomers Andrew Hershberger, Stanes Bufford, Dan Hess and Joe Reitz to all make their respective Bronco debuts.

Hershberger's first collegiate points were the team's first of the season and they didn't come until the 15:15 mark. Turnovers and poor shooting by the Aggies kept WMU in the game and back-to-back layups by Reed actually gave the Broncos a lead midway through the half.

With the score locked at 36-32 in favor of NMSU for over three minutes, the Aggies eventually moved ahead 40-32 on a jumper by Trevor Lawrence. WMU responded with a 7-0 run and eventually pulled to within a point with just under six minutes left.

Down 51-48, Rost knocked down a clutch 3-pointer with 29 seconds left and NMSU's desperation shot at the buzzer didn't draw iron.

The Broncos moved ahead 55-53 with 2:38 left in overtime, but NMSU scored eight-straight points to gain control and made free throws down the stretch to seal the contest.

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