Broncos Stop the Bulls

Wednesday night the Western Michigan University Broncos men's basketball team hosted MAC conference opponent the Buffalo Bulls at University Arena in front of a crowd of 2,305. The Broncos began with a pre-game ceremony honoring the seniors on this year's team. Playing in their final game for the Broncos was Antwan Joseph, Nick Evola, Pat Cleland, Terrence Slater and Robby Collum.

In the early going the Broncos and Bulls came out firing upon each other at will. The lead exchanged hands five times and the game was tied on seven different occasions before the Broncos took the game over at the 7:08 mark of the first half when Robby Collum made two free throws after a foul on Calvin Cage. Robby's free throws gave the Broncos a 31-20 lead and they never looked back enroute to an 87-66 win in MAC play.

Heading into the locker room with a 46-33 lead, Anthony Kann paced the Broncos in scoring as he led all scorers in the first half with 11 points. Mike Williams and Robby Collum scored 10 points each in the half. Mark Bortz who pumped in 8 points led the Bulls in scoring in the first half. Bortz also added 4 rebounds while Bobby Madison led the Broncos with 3 rebounds. Both Kann and Collum each had 2 steals in the first half.

The Bulls led the Broncos from behind the three-point line and free throw shooting percentage, while the Broncos had the advantage in field goal shooting percentage. The Broncos shot .621 from the field while the Bulls shot .464. From the free throw line the Bulls shot 1.000 while the Broncos only made 67% of their free throws. The Bulls also shot .600 (3-5) from three-point range and the Broncos were able to shoot .571 (4-7).

Despite trailing by 13 at the half the Bulls never gave up. They would mount an attempt at a comeback and get the score to within ten when a Mike Williams would make two free throws to start the Broncos on another run. The Bulls were able to pull to within nine at 11:09 after Collum turned over the ball. With the score 62-53 in favor of the Broncos, the Bulls were not able to get any closer.

With less than two minutes to go coach McCullum was able to have all five of his starters on the floor at the same time giving them one last time together in a regular season contest as a Bronco. Perhaps the most enthusiastic moment for those in attendance was when Pat Cleland who missed a shot earlier, drained a basket from behind the three-point line. Coach McCullum said after the game that both plays were called to give Cleland the opportunity to get the points. Cleland's basket sent fans and players into a loud frenzy as his teammates began to hug him as Coach McCullum began bringing out the seniors one at a time.

The Broncos trailed the Bulls in field goal shooting and three-point shooting percentages while the Broncos led in free throw shooting percentage. The Bulls shot .458 from the field to the Broncos .379. From behind the three-point line the Bulls shot .500 to the Broncos .400. From the charity stripe the Broncos shot .750 to the Bulls .615. When asked if the officiating was a problem and had something to do with the Bulls losing so many games all Coach Reggie Witherspoon could do was smile and nod his head. He later said that he has basically let the officials pick the kind of defense he runs, especially after the Bulls were called for 42 fouls against Eastern Michigan University on Monday.

For the game the Broncos led the Bulls in field goal and free throw shooting percentages while the Bulls had the advantage in three-point shooting percentage. The Broncos shot .500 from the field and .724 from the free throw line. The Bulls shot .462 from the field and .706 from the charity stripe. The Bulls shot .545 from the three-point line to the Broncos .471. For the game Mike Williams lead all scorers with 22 points. The Broncos had five players in double figures for the game. Jason Bird led all Buffalo scorers with 16 points while making 4 out of 6 three-point baskets. Mark Bortz pulled down 7 rebounds. The Broncos out rebounded the Bulls by a 36-30 margin. Anthony Kann contributed 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.

The Broncos (17-9, 9-8 MAC) are in action again on Saturday when they take on the Northern Illinois Huskies in DeKalb, Illinois at 3:05pm. The Bulls (4-22, 1-16 MAC) will host Akron University also on Saturday in Buffalo at 7:00pm.

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