In a Mid-American Conference thriller, the Broncos trailed by four at halftime, 44-40, and went on to outscore the Chippewas 52-41 in the second half. With the game tied 77-77 with 2:30 left to play, the Broncos went on a critical 10-0 run. WMU hit 8 of its 10 free throws in the final 38 seconds.
With the victory, Western Michigan improved . . .
"It's a tremendous feeling to come up with a win, especially in a rivalry game," Hawkins said. "We have been playing pretty good basketball and finally found a way to close this one out today. I think we are gaining a little more in confidence and execution."
Four players scored in double figures for the Broncos, led by sophomore point guard Thomas Wilder's game-high 26 points. Wilder also dished out a career-high seven assists and had four rebounds.
Western Michigan tied its season low with six turnovers and dished out 17 assists as a team.
Junior forward Tucker Haymond totaled 19 points and seven rebounds, bringing his career scoring total to 994.
Sophomore center Drake LaMont was a huge factor down low WMU, recording 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Freshman guard Bryce Moore chipped in 10 points and senior Anthony Avery Jr. tallied nine points and seven rebounds.
With Western Michigan leading by five with 14 seconds left to play, Avery sank a pair of clutch free throws. He also grabbed four key rebounds in the final three minutes of the game.
"We established the inside game early, and Anthony pulled down a couple man-sized rebounds -- the one you have to have." Hawkins said.
"At the final media timeout, I told the team 'closing-time'. We hadn't done that, gotten that big stop, the big rebound and knocked down free throws."
Western Michigan improves to 11-16 on the season and 5-9 in the MAC. Central Michigan's record fell to 14-13 and 7-7 in the MAC.
The Chippewas shot 47.0 percent from the floor and were 13-for-31 from behind the arc. Chris Fowler had a team-high 22 points for CMU. Joining him in double figures were Braylon Rayson (18), Luke Meyer (13), Rayshawn Simmons (10) and DaRohn Scott (10).
"There is room for improvement but we have four games left to play and they are all against the West Division, with three of the four on the road," Hawkins said. "We are going to have to develop some road toughness and some road patience, some road aggression."
Northern Illinois at Central Michigan (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET)
Western Michigan at Eastern Michigan (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET)
(Courtesy of WMU Athletics)