Chippewas Next!

Western Michigan begins a stretch that will see the team play four of its next five games on the road when the squad travels to rival Central Michigan on Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. A capacity crowd is expected at Rose Arena and the game is being featured as a part of the MAC TV package. The contest will be broadcast in Kalamazoo on FOX Sports Detroit.

BRONCOS HAVE CONTROL OF OWN DESTINY

Western Michigan's 5-5 league record places the team in the middle of the West Division standings with eight games remaining.

While it can be argued that every conference victory is equally important, the next two outings for WMU may turn out to be the most significant of the campaign. Both Central Michigan (6-3) and Bowling Green (6-4) are ahead of the Broncos in the standings, meaning the squad could pick up a game on each in the head-to-head matchups.

WMU has also yet to face Northern Illinois, which has jumped out to a 6-3 league mark and is currently tied with the Chippewas for the division lead. With BGSU's move to the West Division, the Broncos will take on the Huskies just once (March 8).

The Broncos have dropped five league games to this point in the season, two of which have come to current division leaders (Kent State, CMU). A third loss came at the hands of Miami, which is second in the East Division with a 7-3 record.

WMU has five contests (Toledo, Ohio, Eastern Michigan, Ball State, Buffalo) on the remaining schedule with teams who have fewer than four conference wins to date.

SHOOTING TOUCH SHOWS SIGNS OF LIFE

Entering Wednesday's matchup with Marshall, WMU's field goal shooting had taken a nose dive in recent games, resulting in a 1-2 record the last three times on the court.

That trend continued into the first half of the battle with MU, which saw the Broncos convert at just a 32.3 percent (10-of-31) clip from the floor in the opening 20 minutes of play. Luckily for Western Michigan, the squad righted the ship in the locker room and knocked down 15-of-28 (53.6 percent) chances following intermission. The Broncos finished the game at 42.4 percent overall, but just 35 percent (3-of-12) from long distance.

In the three outings prior to the Marshall game (vs. Akron, @ Toledo, vs. Kent State) WMU shot an ice-cold 36.9 percent (69-of-187) as a team from the floor. That mark includes a 27.8 percent (15-of-54) effort from behind the 3-point line.

Western Michigan's struggles didn't come from a lack of effort. The team actually owned a total field goal advantage of 69-67 in the three games and had taken 44 more shots (187-143) than its opponents.

BRONCOS DOUBLE UP THE DOUBLE-DOUBLE

Western Michigan was able to dominate play inside against Marshall, primarily because of the efforts of juniors Anthony Kann (30 points, 12 rebounds) and Mike Williams (25 points, 12 rebounds).

The duo accounted for 55 points and 24 rebounds versus the Thundering Herd while shooting 58 percent (18-of-31) of its shots. Kann and Williams contributed 70 percent (55-of-79) of the team's offensive total and 71 percent (24-of-34) of the squad's total individual rebounds (five team boards included in overall total of 39).

The last time a pair of Broncos collected double-doubles in the same game came on Feb. 3, 1996 at Central Michigan. Russ DesErmia finished the night with 16 points and 10 caroms while teammate Ben Handlogten concluded 33 minutes of action with 18 points and 12 boards. Western Michigan won the game 73-61 and finished with a 32-22 advantage on the glass.

WILLIS POSTS CAREER HIGH IN FOUR MINUTES

Sophomore guard Rickey Willis has seen increased amounts of action in recent games, playing at least 20 minutes in each of the past three outings.

Against Marshall, the Detroit, Mich., native was on the court for 20 minutes of game time, but waited until the clock was ticking down in crunch time to make his presence felt.

Willis netted all of his career-high 10 points (3-of-5 shooting) in the game's final 3:45, with each contribution growing in importance. The scoring barrage started following a Marshall timeout when he drained a 3-pointer to give WMU a slim 67-66 advantage. After a defensive stop, Willis drained a jumper as he was fouled and completed the 3-point play with a charity toss to set the score at 70-66 at the 2:25 mark.

With Western Michigan leading 72-69, forward Mike Williams found Willis on the right wing as the shot clock was winding down and he calmly knocked down the trifecta to extend the lead. A pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining sealed the deal.

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