Broncos Bounce the Eagles

The Western Michigan basketball team (15-6, 8-3 MAC) is now a perfect 2-0 against instate MAC rivals after defeating the Eastern Michigan Eagles (9-11, 3-8) by a score of 82-71.

Rickey Willis had his second career high in scoring in just the past three games scoring 16 for the Brown and Gold leading the Broncos not only from the point, but also by hitting some critical shots at critical times. "Rickey is a kid that really understands his roll and he certainly had a big game tonight and stepped up," lamented EMU coach Jim Boone.

"I just wanted to play good today," said Willis who is also team captain. "My old high school coach is the director of operations at [Eastern] and I just had to play good for him. Darryl Garrett was a freshman when I was a senior at Detroit Mackenzie and he was good for us so I just had to be good tonight."

The other key for WMU – besides Willis' game – was rebounding, specifically on the offensive glass. "I'm real happy about that," said Bronco boss Steve Hawkins. "It was something we felt like we had to do going into it. We don't always shoot it straight but one thing we can do is go down and get some extra possessions."

Ben Reed led the Broncos in rebounding with 11 picking up 5 of those on offense. Overall the Broncos scored 6 more second chance points then the Eagles created in large part by the 17-7 disparity in offensive boards. "That was the difference in the game right there," added Boone.

The turning point in the game began at the 9:53 mark of the second half after EMU had cut the lead to just 4 points. An easy lay up by Stane's Bufford would start a run that would see the Broncos slowly chip away towards a 14-point lead by the 3:19 mark.

WMU would hold on for the 11-point win led by Reed's 21 points followed by Willis (16) and Levi Rost (14). Rost would add 6 assists in the game and Bufford would chip in 12 points.

"To come in here, a place where it's hard to win, I though our team played really hard," said Boone. "We played a good Western Michigan team tonight. We went toe-to-toe with them in their place."

For the Eagles Markus Austin would lead with 21 points followed by center John Bowler and Darryl Garrett who each had 15. EMU would have a balanced effort on the glass led by Bowler's 5 rebounds.

The next action for the Broncos is on the road on Saturday February 5 at 3:30pm against Ohio. The Eagles will host IPFW next Sunday in their second to last non-conference match-up of the regular season.

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