Must Win Against Eagles

Western Michigan wraps up a two-game mini road swing with a short day trip down I-94 to face Eastern Michigan Wednesday night at the Convocation Center. The Broncos defeated the Eagles 87-54 on Jan. 11 at University Arena, but WMU led by just a basket in the opening minutes of the second half before pulling away for the victory.

IMPORTANCE OF FINAL WEEKS SKY ROCKET

With the double overtime loss at Ohio, the Broncos failed to take advantage of several opportunities, not the least of which was a move to help secure a first round game in the upcoming MAC Tournament.

WMU is currently tied with Ball State for third in the West Division, with an opportunity to sweep the season series on March 1. More importantly, the team is in a position to earn a home contest on March 10 and a pair of wins this week would go a long way in helping to insure that happening.

The Broncos, who already own the tiebreaker with Bowling Green (6-8), would also share that status against the Eagles and Cardinals by way of two wins in head-to-head competition.

COLLUM REACHES PAIR OF MILESTONES IN DEFEAT

Senior guard Robby Collum, playing in just his third season with the Broncos after a year of junior college ball, has already placed his name throughout the WMU record book's individual season and career records.

Saturday afternoon versus Ohio, the Racine, Wis., native gained more recognition for his contributions to the program at Western Michigan.

Collum tallied 25 points Saturday to become the school's 30th player to score 1,000 points (reached mark with 3-pointer in first half), without the need of the traditional four years of play usually required to reach that plateau. The last Broncos to surpass the 1,000-point barrier were Saddi Washington and Rashod Johnson, who concluded their respective careers with the 1997-98 NCAA Tournament squad. Collum currently owns 1,016 career points.

Collum, who leads the MAC and is among the nation's (3rd) steals leaders, set the program's career record in that category with a pair of swipes against the Bobcats. With 70 steals this season (186 total), he pulled ahead of Booker James' (1984-87) all-time mark of 185. Collum will also more than likely break his own single season steals mark of 72, set in 2001-02.

LATE GAME BREAKDOWN FINALLY BUCKS BRONCOS

In victories over Bowling Green (2/15) and Toledo (2/18), the Broncos were able to overcome breakdowns in the closing seconds to secure wins.

Ahead by three points in each game, WMU fouled an opponent and in the process provided the opportunity to tie the game. BGSU's Ronald Lewis drew three charity tosses, but missed the first attempt before making the second and missing the third on purpose. WMU claimed the rebound and held on for the win. UT's Keith Triplett drained a jumper as he was fouled, but could not complete the 3-point play and again Western Michigan escaped with a win.

The team's luck ran out at Ohio, however, and the result was a tough double overtime loss. Leading by two points after a 1-of-2 free throw effort by Anthony Kann, the Bronco defense forced a tough shot by OU's Jeff Halbert. The free throw line jumper bounced off the rim, but teammate Thomas Stephens laid in the rebound to force overtime. Stephens inbounded the ball near midcourt and then ran untouched to the left block for the putback.

WMU didn't help itself in overtime either. The squad finished the pair of extra sessions 2-of-11 (18.2 percent) from the floor and 7-of-13 (53.8 percent) from the free throw line.

WILLIAMS SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME ON THE BENCH

Junior forward Mike Williams has seen his offensive production (13.4 points per game) drop in recent weeks due to foul trouble, which as resulted in a reduction of playing time.

In his first 16 games of the year, the Detroit, Mich., native had failed to reach double figures in points on just three occasions. With Saturday's seven-point effort at Ohio, Williams has now scored 10-or-fewer points in four straight games.

Dating back to the Central Michigan game (2/10), the latest in any of the four games Williams has picked up his second foul has been the 7:15 mark of the first half. He has been forced to sit nearly eight minutes of playing time in the first half in each of those games.

Williams' foul troubles haven't stayed in the locker room at the half. He picked up his third versus Toledo at the 19:34 mark and against the Chippewas was forced to sit again with 17:52 remaining. He has, however, only fouled out twice this season, at Ball State and at Ohio.

In his last four games, Williams is contributing 7.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in an average of 26.5 minutes per outing, all of which are well below his season marks.

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