Jumpers by freshman Seth Dugan and junior Tucker Haymond to start the second half increased the Broncos' lead to 12. Western Michigan and Liberty exchanged runs over the rest of the course of the game.
Liberty had inched within two, 51-49, with 7:16 left to play and WMU responded with an 11-3 run. Senior Jared Klein hit a long shot behind the arc and Haymond completed a three-point play during key moments in that stretch.
Sophomore Thomas Wilder attacked the basket for a pair of layups and Haymond went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final minutes of the game to finish off the Flames.
The Broncos dominated play at the rim, outscoring Liberty in the paint 40-10 and out-rebounding the Flames 34-19.
“I thought offensively we were pretty good almost all night, except for the turnovers out of our post," said WMU head coach Steve Hawkins. "We shot 51 percent for the game and out-rebounded them pretty big. Those two areas really carried us today.
“Defensively we were outstanding in the first half, holding them to 35 percent (shooting). We weren’t as good defensively in the second half and Liberty started to warm up from the three-point line, so we couldn’t ever really put them away. But we made enough plays to win.
“We have yet to have everyone play really well on the same night, but we are working towards that, and it is getting better.”
Haymond led Western Michigan with a game-high 16 points, also adding three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Avery paced the offense in the first half with 10 points and finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Junior Kellen McCormick added 12 points, six points and a career-high four assists.
Western Michigan shot a season-high 51 percent (26-for-51) from the floor and defensively held Liberty (3-3 record) to 41.9 percent.
The Broncos close out their stay in Nashville Sunday, taking on Mercer at 7 p.m. ET.
(Courtesy of WMU Athletics)