After starting Mid-American Conference play with a 2-6 record the Broncos (15-15, 11-7 MAC) closed out the remainder of their schedule with wins in nine of their last 10 games, rallying back from last place to tie Ball State for the MAC West title. It was the eighth division crown in 14 seasons under WMU head coach Steve Hawkins.
WMU withstood 13 three-pointers from . . .
After allowing Rayson to score 22 points in the first half, Western Michigan switched up its defensive scheme and CMU's senior guard was held to just four points in the second half.
"I think you can throw out records whenever Central and Western play each other," Hawkins said. "A lot of these games have come down to the wire and there haven't been too many blowouts.
“For us to come out to with a win on a night we needed it for a MAC West Division title was unbelievable. The way we had to do it in the second half, I was even more proud of."
Western Michigan held Central Michigan to just 25 percent shooting in the second half and also out-rebounded the Chippewas 27-21 over the final 20 minutes. For the game, the Broncos held a 48-36 advantage on the boards.
Freshman Brandon Johnson grabbed 12 rebounds and chipped in 14 points for his second double-double in the last three outings. WMU shot 50 percent for the night and had 16 assists on 32 field goals.
CMU's Marcus Keene, who entered the contest as the nation's leading scorer at just under 30 points per game, tallied 37 points on 12-of-31 shooting. The loss was Central Michigan's (16-15, 6-12 MAC), seventh straight.
No. 5 Seed Western Michigan will host No. 12 Miami Monday (7:30 p.m. ET). The winner advances to Cleveland to face No. 4 Ball State in a tilt that follows Thursday’s noon contest at Quicken Loans Arena.
No. 11 Seed Central Michigan is at No. 6 Kent State Monday (TBA). The winner meets No. 3 Seed Buffalo in Thursday’s final game at Quicken Loans Arena.
(Courtesy of WMU Athletics)