KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Austin Richie shook off the rust of a long layoff with a team-high 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting and the Broncos out-rebounded their opponent by 13 as Western Michigan defeated the Ohio Bobcats 80-69 at University Arena on Wednesday. With the win, the Broncos improve to 16-10 overall on the season, 7-6 in Mid-American Conference play.
Richie made six of his first seven shots and finished with 19 points, including a 3-of-4 mark from three-point range to pace the Broncos. It was WMU’s first double-digit win since beating Miami 69-58 on Jan. 21, and its highest points total in a MAC game decided in regulation this season. Three other Broncos joined Richie in double figures in scoring: Connar Tava (15), David Brown (12), and Kellen McCormick (12). Tava also pulled down a game-high seven rebounds.
WMU controlled the glass for the entire game, outrebounding the Bobcats 36-23; that represents Western’s best rebounding margin since the season opener against Aquinas (+20) and also best against a Division I opponent this season. The Broncos outscored the Bobcats 15-2 in second chance points, pulling in 10 offensive rebounds compared to just six for Ohio.
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The Broncos then went on a 6-2 run that was built on three-pointers by McCormick and Wilder to take a 22-18 lead, with Wilder punctuating the run with a trey from the left wing after Taylor Perry hauled in an offensive rebound and kicked it out for the open shot.
Austin Richie bumped the Bronco lead to six points with a step-up jumper from just inside the three-point line, knocking down a shot from the left wing at the 5:58 mark to make it 30-24 in favor of WMU.
The Bobcats cut the lead to just two points with a lay-up by Javarez Willis, but the Western Michigan recovered and built the lead back to five points with a three-pointer from Richie with 3:03 left that made it 35-28. Richie then drained another to make it 38-32, but the Bobcats scored the final four points of the half to make it 38-36 entering the break.
Brown pushed WMU to a 49-43 lead after an and-one lay-up at the 15:37 mark, going coast-to-coast and drawing contact from Maurice Ndour in the process of making the shot. Ohio responded with a 6-0 run to tie the score at 49, but McCormick countered with a three-pointer to break the deadlock and Richie scored on a baseline drive on the next possession to make it 54-49.
Richie continued the run with a lay-up with three seconds remaining on the shot clock, blowing by Treg Setty with 10:25 to play to make it 56-49. Again the Bobcats rallied back, and again the Broncos responded. With the margin cut to just 57-56, Haymond bumped the lead back to three points when he caught a lob off the inbounds play and tipped it in at the 8:24 mark.
Ohio took a 67-65 lead with six minutes to play thanks to a Ryan Taylor three-pointer, but Richie responded with a baseline 15-footer to tie the score at the 5:26 mark. WMU re-took the advantage on the next offensive possession when Tava took a feed in the paint and spun around Ndour, scoring on the baseline drive to make it 69-67. Richie delivered a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game, and Perry made a jumper from the head of the key to make it 73-67. Western capped the 11-0 run with two free throw makes by Wilder, and WMU held off the ‘Cats for the 80-69 victory.
(Courtesy of WMU Athletics)