Welcome Home, Have a Win

The well-rested Bronco men's basketball team coasted to an easy 65-45 win over South Alabama in their first home game since traveling over 6000 miles in a coast-to-coast road swing earlier this month. The Broncos – now at 8-3 on the season – won their 22nd consecutive home game over the struggling Jaguars (3-7) in a game that was over almost as soon as it began.

With the game tied at 5 a piece at the 15:43 mark of the first half Levi Rost hit a pair of free throws, then Jeff Bronson would make an easy lay-in, followed by three pointers by Ben Reed and Silver Laku and the Broncos had an early 15-5 lead. Not even a quick timeout for South Alabama could quell the tide as Bronson and Joe Reitz would combine for five more points to extend the Western Michigan lead to 15 less then nine minutes into the game.

In the first half the Broncos would finish with seven more points off turnovers and six more points from the free throw line then USA and coast to 36-20 halftime lead.

The Jaguars shot less then 30% in the first half and just over 30% for the game and WMU head coach Steve Hawkins was certain that was a result of a stingy Bronco defense. "We really played well on defense," said Hawkins. "Against IUPUI, certainly against USC and at Virginia Tech we didn't play our brand of defense… tonight, we did."

That defense continued in the second half as the team only allowed 25 second half points, none of which came off of turnovers. "The one word we never want associated with our program is finesse," said Hawkins. "We are going to work hard on defense and rebounding."

That blue-collar work ethic was never more evident then with just over 13 minutes to go in the game as Rickey Willis tossed a wild pass across the court to avoid a Jaguar player followed by an athletic save by a hustling Laku to Andrew Hershberger who finished the play when he went strong to the basket for the lay-in drawing the foul.

Rost led WMU offensively with 18 points and Reed chipped in with 14 of his own. Rost also led with 11 rebounds while Laku had 4 steals and Willis had 5 assists. Combined the Broncos committed only 8 turnovers, half as many as their opponent.

For the Jaguars the game could be summed up easily by head coach John Pelphrey, "Western Michigan is obviously a very good basketball team. We just got beat by a much better team tonight."

For the Broncos it was indeed a nice welcome home from the 3,428 in attendance that included an almost non-existent student section during the semester break. "I can't say enough about the crowd to end up with [over] 3400 here without our students," said Hawkins. "I think they were treated to a very exciting game and it was a great way to come home."

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