KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Western Michigan sent its seniors off in style in front of a packed house at University Arena Friday, defeating the conference-leading Central Michigan Chippewas 74-62 to improve to 19-12 on the season and 10-8 in Mid-American Conference play.
Despite its loss, Central Michigan heads to the upcoming MAC tournament as the No. 1 seed. That gives the Chippewas a bye until Friday’s 6:30 p.m. (ET) semi-final contest.
The Broncos, meanwhile, secured a No. 6 seed and will host the No. 11 seed Ohio Bobcats at University Arena on Monday, March 9, with tip-off scheduled for either 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.
The Broncos enjoyed their full complement of players for the first time since Feb. 18 against Ohio and for just the third time since Jan. 21 against Miami. WMU certainly looked more like the team that started out the MAC schedule on fire in dismantling the Chippewas. WMU allowed Central Michigan to lead just once, when the Chippewas held a 3-2 lead 1:41 into the game. The Bronco lead reached as many as 18 points. CMU never cut the lead to fewer than two possessions, getting as close as six points with 12:51 remaining in the second half.
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Central Michigan hit just 40 percent from the field and 19 percent (4-of-21) on threes. Chris Fowler led the way with 21 points, followed by Rayshawn Simmons (19) and John Simons (10).
WMU jumped all over the Chippewas to start the game, opening on a 9-3 run that was punctuated by a hook shot from Tava at the 16:19 mark. David Brown drilled a three-pointer from the right wing to make it 18-10 with 11:04 remaining, and Tava gave the Broncos their first double-digit advantage of the night when Richie found him streaking down the court in transition for a fast break bucket to make it 24-14.
The Broncos continued to pour it on, with Haymond going on a personal 5-0 run to make it 37-21 with 2:31 left to go in the half. The largest lead of the game came with 38 seconds remaining when LaMont pulled down an offensive board and kicked it out to Richie. He drove the lane and finished to make it an 18-point advantage. Fowler tacked on a free throw at the end of the half, but the Broncos entered the break with a 39-22 advantage.
The lead dipped into the single digits midway through the second half when Rayshawn Simmons made it 44-38 with a runner in the paint, but Haymond responded with baskets on three straight possessions, making it 53-42 with a three-pointer from the deep left wing. Richie contributed a trey from the head of the key to make it 56-46 and the Chippewas never again pulled within fewer than three possessions. Haymond made it 71-58 with 1:15 to play and the Broncos cruised down the stretch.
(Courtesy of WMU Athletics)