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Broncos' seniors come up big on Senior Night, WMU one win away from MAC Title with 61-56 win over NIU

by Colin Windecker

Kalamazoo, MI (WKZO) – Led by a combined 39 from its two seniors, the Western Michigan men’s basketball team is back in the driver seat of controlling its own destiny for a Mid-American Conference regular season title along with the earning the #1 seed for next week’s MAC Tournament in Cleveland with Tuesday night’s physical victory over the Northern Illinois Huskies 61-56.

Shayne Whittington had 21 and David Brown scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half for the Broncos, who trailed the entire second half until Brown successfully made all three free throws after being fouled from behind the arc to put WMU up 49-48 with 3:42 left in the game. The Broncos never trailed again and a layup from Connar Tava, his only basket of the game, put WMU ahead 57-55 with 34 seconds left.

After falling to Toledo last Saturday, the Broncos needed to win out and get some help for a potential chance at earning the #1 seed, but a loss from Buffalo reopened those chances and now the Broncos are just one win away from its first regular season title since Head Coach Steve Hawkins first season back in 2004.

However, if the Broncos (20-9, 13-4 MAC) fall at CMU and Toledo and Buffalo win their final games, WMU would fall to the #3 seed and would only receive a double-bye in the MAC Tourney.

WMU trailed 25-24 at halftime.

Jordan Threloff recorded a double-double for NIU (13-16, 7-10 MAC) with 13 points and rebounds. Aaric Armstead led the way in scoring with 15 for the Huskies.

The Broncos wrap up the regular season in hopes of the MAC Title night against archrival Central Michigan on Friday night. WMU will not only will the MAC Regular Season Title with a win but will also win the Michigan MAC Trophy for the best record against the other MAC Michigan directional schools. Tip-off is set for 7pm.

Game Notes: Tava had eight assists…Whittington and Brown combined to go 20-23 from the free throw line…Whittington also had five blocks…WMU shot 39% for the game and 25% from downtown…This is Coach Hawkins sixth 20-win season at Western...Attendance for the game was 3176