CLEVELAND, OH (WKZO) -- Mike Douglas had 19 points and 7 assists to lead the Broncos past the Northern Illinois Huskies 71-54 to advance to the next round of the MAC Tournament.
This is the 3rd time this season the Broncos have beaten the Huskies.
“The first 20 minutes of the game we looked like a lot of teams that take the floor for the first time in Cleveland, even though we’ve been here before”, Broncos head coach Steve Hawkins said. “I don’t know if it was jitters but we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be. We settled down in the 2nd half and our rebounding and our defensive really picked up.”
The Huskies started the game with an early 7-2 lead but that lead was short lived. WMU chipped away at the early deficit and by the halfway mark of the first half the Broncos had tied the game at 16 after Brandon Pokely drilled a 3 pointer.
Two free throws from Flenard Whitfield put Western up 24-22 with 5:29 remaining in the first half and after that point the Broncos never trailed. However, Tony Nixon made a 3 pointer as the buzzer sounded ending the 1st half, giving the Broncos just a 3 point lead, 31-28.
“We knew we didn’t play the best we could during the 1st half”, Mike Douglas said. “Coach got on us in the locker room and we just turned it on.”
The Broncos turned it on hardcore in the 2nd half and put the game out of the way, after going on a 17-1 run over a 6 minute period to put themselves up 56-38 with 10:06 remaining.
In the second half, Demetrius Ward became the 2nd Bronco this season to eclipse the 1000 point plateau for his career. Flenard Whitfield also topped 1000 career points earlier in the season. Ward finished with 13 points.
The Broncos will now face Kent State on Thursday in the quarterfinals. Kent St. finished the season 20-10 and 10-6 in MAC. The Golden Flashes defeated WMU 78-73 on February 4th in overtime.
GAME NOTES: WMU shot only 34.5% in the 1st half, but improved in the 2nd half shooting 14-24 (58.3%)…Brandon Pokely had 12 points, all in the first half. Pokely was in the starting lineup for the 2nd straight game…Matt Stainbrook was 1 point and 1 rebound away from a double-double…Tony Nixon scored 11 points for the Huskies…With the win WMU improves to 14-19 and NIU falls to 5-26.