Broncos Get Tough Win

For the second straight meeting Northern Illinois gave the Western Michigan basketball team fits as the Broncos struggled to a 67-60 win in front of a modest 3,648 fans in attendance. WMU now has 25 home wins in a row with tonight's victory, a win that wasn't sealed until under a minute left to go.

Senior Ben Reed and freshman Joe Reitz can share the game ball in a game that was in doubt right up till the final minute.

Reed led all scorers with a big three-point shooting night going 7 for 14 from beyond the stripe. "I have to give my teammates a ton on credit for getting me the ball in tough situations," said Reed. "I do whatever the team needs me to do." Reed would also add 6 rebounds but more importantly fuel the Bronco defense down the stretch.

"Ben Reed won this basketball game for the Broncos," said NIU coach Rob Judson. "He's probably the top play in our league right now."

Senior Guard Ben Reed

Reitz would post his second double double of his career pulling down 14 rebounds and adding 10 points. Reitz won the battle of the boards with 6'11" James Hughes, who leads the MAC in blocks, holding him to just 2 rebounds in the game. "[Hughes] is a great defender, but one thing I have on him is I weigh a little bit more then him," said Reitz. "I just tried to use my body to get into good position."

The Broncos would get out to a big lead early starting the game on a 15-5 run capped by a Stanes Bufford dunk that sent the home fans into a frenzy. "We came out with a lot of energy offensively," said Levi Rost. That lead would vanish in just minutes as NIU went on a 10-0 run of their own. "We just didn't have that energy on defense to start the game," added Rost.

Both teams traded shots until the Huskies took their first lead of the game at the 5:24 mark on a Mike McKinney three-pointer. The two teams would eventually head into halftime with a 29-25 Bronco lead.

The Broncos would open the second half with another big run, this time 13-3, before the Huskies crawled back into the game taking another lead at the 9:58 mark. "There was another team out there that's trying to keep us from winning," said coach Steve Hawkins. "It's a pretty good team we played out there and you've got to give them a little bit of credit."

WMU would hold onto a precarious lead into the last media timeout, once again capped by a Bufford dunk. This time he rebounded over another Bronco, spun in the air for the reverse dunk sending the crowd into an even bigger frenzy.

The Broncos would seal the win with the defense missing at the start of both halves, holding Northern Illinois to just a single basket in the final two minutes, and forcing the Huskies to foul to get the ball back. The Broncos would go 7 of 8 from the free-throw line in that stretch to finish the 7-point win.

"In the last media timeout we really said we wanted to put the clamp down on our defense," said Rost. "We played with a lot of confidence down the stretch."

"Our team played really hard," said Judson. "The difference in this game was that Western shot 17 free-throws and we shot just 4. We played a tough team on a terrific home court."

The Western Michigan men will try to add to the home winning streak this Saturday as the Broncos host Ball State for a 2pm tip-off. Tickets are available at the Waldo Stadium ticket office, by calling 1-888-4-WMU-TIX, and online at

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