Home Finale

Western Michigan wraps up the home portion of its 2002-03 regular season by hosting Ball State on March 1 in the first of back-to-back games at University Arena. The contest versus the Cardinals is the second game of a doubleheader with the women's squad, which hosts rival Central Michigan at 2 p.m.

WMU defeated BSU 71-52 in Muncie earlier this season and are 3-2 against the Cardinals under head coach Robert McCullum.

WINNING AT HOME LEADS TO FUTURE DATES

Two wins in WMU's final three regular season games will all but guarantee the Broncos a home game in the upcoming MAC Tournament.

If Western Michigan is able to defend its home court versus Ball State and Buffalo, victories would allow the squad to encounter a must win at division power Northern Illinois on March 8 in the regular season finale.

A favorable decision over the Cardinals becomes even more important should the two squads end up with identical league records. A WMU season sweep would give the Broncos the tiebreaker.

KEY TO MAC WINS AND LOSSES IS SIMPLE: SHOOTING

Owning one of the nation's best scoring defenses early in the season did a good job in masking a number of WMU's team deficiencies. However, as the defensive effort has faded in terms of points allowed, areas of weakness have been exposed.

Looking at the squad's statistics in the seven league wins, compared to the eight MAC losses, offers an easy explanation as to the reason for the team's struggles. Western Michigan has struggled with its shooting touch.

In the eight games the Broncos have lost in MAC play this season, WMU is shooting 38.5 percent from the field, 23.7 percent from behind the 3-point line and 67.9 percent from the free throw line. In the seven favorable conference victories to date, the Broncos are connecting on 46.1 percent of their field goals, 40.2 percent of their treys and 73.8 percent of their charity tosses.

The Broncos have finished above 40 percent from the field on just three occasions in the eight MAC contests they have dropped.

WILLIAMS FINALLY BATTLES THROUGH FOUL TROUBLE

When junior forward Mike Williams picked up his second foul early in the first half against Eastern Michigan, it marked the continuation of a frustrating trend for the Bronco coaching staff.

The Detroit, Mich., native had seen limited minutes in each of the previous four games due to foul trouble and was once again forced to take a seat on the bench. As a result of his limited play, Williams had failed to reach double figures in any of those contests.

After missing a majority of the first half at EMU, Williams managed to pick up just one more foul the rest of the way and as a result enjoyed a breakthrough performance. He finished with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and also had four boards in just 24 minutes of action. He played a key role in WMU's comeback attempt, at one point accounting for 11-straight points.

Williams has still yet to play more than 30 minutes in any of the previous four outings.

SNIDER GIVES GLIMPSE OF POTENTIAL

Freshman Brian Snider gave Bronco fans a glimpse of the potential against Eastern Michigan that led to him being highly recruited by a number of MAC programs.

The Cadillac, Mich., native finished with career highs in points (7) and rebounds (6) and also earned personal bests in both assists (3) and steals (3). He knocked down both of his field goal attempts, including a key 3-pointer during the team's second-half comeback attempt. Three of his boards came at the offensive end and his assist and steals totals led the squad.

Snider's 21 minutes of action were the most by any Bronco reserve and marked the second highest personal total (24, vs. Marshall) of his brief career.

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