Broncos Finish Strong

The Western Michigan University men's basketball team (18-9, 10-8) earned the No. 5 seed in the upcoming Mid-American Conference tournament with a 71-67 overtime win at Northern Illinois (15-13, 11-7 MAC) Saturday afternoon in the regular season finale.

The Broncos will face No. 12 Toledo at 7 p.m. on March 10 at University Arena in the MAC Tournament first round. The two teams split a pair of meetings during the regular season.

Senior Robby Collum led all scorers with 22 points and also contributed eight assists, six steals and five rebounds in 39 minutes of action. Junior Mike Williams chipped in 18 points and classmate Anthony Kann added 12 of his own.

WMU was lucky to trail by just a basket (29-27) at the half after shooting 35.7 percent (10-of-28) in the opening 20 minutes. The Broncos were outrebounded 19-13 and outscored 10-4 from the free throw line, but did force 11 turnovers prior to the intermission.

Western Michigan turned things around offensively in the second half and turned the deficit into a seven-point advantage with 11:08 remaining in regulation. The Huskies clawed their way back into the game and eventually pulled ahead 48-46 four minutes later on a putback by NIU's Marcus Smallwood.

Collum answered with a trey from the right wing and the team's battled back and forth until the Huskies moved ahead with 60-55 remaining. Four Collum free throws and a Williams' baseline jumper knotted the score at 61-61 with 24.2 seconds on the clock.

Northern Illinois had the ball with a chance to win following a timeout, but Smallwood stepped out of bounds on the left baseline with 2.2 seconds on the game clock. Forward Bobby Madison's full court pass was never fully controlled by a Bronco and time expired.

The Broncos fell behind right away in the overtime following a free throw make by Jay Bates, but two Kann free throws would give his team a lead it would never give up. Madison drained two charity tosses of his own with 32 seconds left to stake WMU to a 68-65 lead. Kann fouled Jamel Staten on a putback with 15.7 seconds left and the score was 68-67.

Madison made 3-of-4 free throws in the closing seconds to seal the victory, the final two coming after Bates had turned the ball over in the lane. The miscue was the 27th of the contest for the Huskies.

With the victory, Western Michigan improved to 1-1 in extra-session contests on the year. The squad was defeated 79-72 at Ohio on Feb. 22 in double overtime.

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