The Broncos held the Golden Flashes scoreless from . . .
Kent State regained a one-point advantage a minute later off a pair of free-throws before redshirt junior Brandon Johnson earned a fast-break lay-up to give the Brown & Gold a one points lead.
On the ensuing possession, Cruz Jr. stripped Kent State’s Antonio Williams for his third steal of the night, leading to two made free-throws from junior Michael Flowers and a three-point lead.
After the Golden Flashes made one of two from the charity stripe, Johnson was fouled and made a pair of free-throws to secure the 67-63 victory. With the win, WMU improved its record inside University Arena to 7-2.
For the ninth time this season the Broncos had four score in double figures led by Flowers with 18 points. The Southfield, Mich., native was 6-of-15 from the field in the win with two three-pointers, one rebound and four assists. Flowers has now scored in double figures in 22 straight games and is 94 points away from eclipsing 1,000 for his career.
Behind Flowers was forward Brandon Johnson with 12 points along with eight rebounds. Johnson was 5-of-16 from the field and a perfect 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. It’s the fifth game in a row Johnson has scored in double figures and ninth game with at least eight rebounds.
Junior Rafael Cruz Jr. off the bench ranked third on the team with 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field with two threes. Cruz Jr. also had a season-high five assists along with a three steals, two shy of his career-high.
Freshman B. Artis White was the fourth Bronco to score in double figures with 10 points. White was 2-of-3 from long distance and had a trio of rebounds with one assist and one steal. Fellow freshman Titus Wright led WMU on the glass with a career-high 11 rebounds, five of which came on the offensive glass. Wright finished with seven points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field.
Anthony Roberts led the Flashes with 19 points. He was joined in double figures by Antonio Williams (15), and Troy Simmons (12).
As a team the Broncos shot 41 percent from the field and was 7-of-17 from behind the three-point line. The WMU defense held Kent State to 45.5 percent shooting from the field and forced 13 turnovers, scoring 10 points off of turnovers. The bench play loomed large in the victory as WMU outscored Kent State’s bench, 18-6.
The victory snapped WMU’s three-game losing streak as the Broncos improved their overall record to 9-9 and 2-3 in Mid-American Conference play.
Both teams got off to a slow start as WMU and Kent State went a combined 3-of-13 from the field as Kent State held a 5-4 lead through the first five minutes of play. WMU took its first lead of the game at 7-5 before the Golden Flashes embarked on a 9-0 run to gain a 14-7 advantage at the 11:49 mark.
Western Michigan cut its deficit down to one with 7:57 left to play in the first half after a three-pointer from Boyer-Richard before missing its next four field goals.
The two teams traded baskets down the stretch before the Broncos embarked on a 12-2 run to take a 30-25 lead into the locker room. The WMU defense stepped up late in the first half holding Kent State scoreless from the field the final 4:13.
It was a furious pace from both squads to begin the second half as WMU made four of its first five field goals while Kent State made its first four field goals to cut the Bronco lead down to four. However out of a media timeout the Golden Flashes responded with a 15-2 run, making nine of 11 field goals to take a 45-39 lead with 13:25 remaining.
Kent State continued its run midway through the second half and ultimately took a double-digit lead with 9:36 to play. The Broncos rallied once again and over the next four minutes of play went on a 7-0 run to trail 55-54 with five minutes to go in the second half.
Western Michigan tied the game at 58 with 2:45 remaining thanks to a dunk from Johnson followed by a floater from Cruz Jr. on the next possession. The Golden Flashes made two free-throws to regain their lead before Flowers knocked down a high arching three from the right corner to give WMU a 61-60 advantage.
With under a minute to go and trailing by two, Cruz Jr. found Johnson for a dunk to give the Broncos a one-point lead once again. On the ensuing possession, Cruz Jr. made the defensive play of the game swiping Kent State’s Antonio Williams for his third steal of the night, leading to two made free-throws from Flowers and a 65-62 lead with 15.8 seconds left.
After a Bronco foul the Golden Flashes went to the free-throw line for one-and-one and made the first before missing the second as Johnson corralled the rebound. Johnson was fouled and made both free-throws to secure the 67-63 victory for the Brown & Gold.