KALAMAZOO, MI (WKZO) – Wednesday night had the potential to be a special night in Kalamazoo.
University Arena had the feel of a playoff environment as the crowd was into the game from the opening tip and both teams battled as if it were their last game of the season. The Broncos knew what was at stake with a victory over Akron. With Eastern Michigan and Ball State falling earlier in the night, a win for the Broncos would move them into a tie atop the MAC West and in position for that all important 1st round bye in next month’s MAC tourney. But just like numerous other games this season the Broncos missed key opportunities at important moments late in games. This time it was against Akron, as the Broncos dropped their third game in a row, falling in overtime 69-66 to the Zips.
With less than 10 seconds to play and down by 2 points, Mike Douglas missed an 8 foot tear-dropper that would have forced a second overtime and as Akron big man Zeke Marshall came away with the rebound, it all but ended the Broncos chance of an upset.
The ending put a damper on what should have been a special night for the Broncos and especially for Mike Douglas, as he became the all-time leader in assists at Western Michigan University. Douglas entered the game needing only 6 assists to move into 1st place all-time. But even with the assists record, the senior floor general would give them all away for a victory over the top ranked team in the MAC.
The Broncos held a 9 point advantage over Akron at halftime and lead by as much as 11 in the first half. The Zips switched to a 3-2 zone in the 2nd half, forcing WMU into contested shots and holding them to only 25% shooting.
The Broncos had the chance to end the game before it entered overtime but Flenard Whitfield missed the 2nd of 2 free throws and the game went to an extra period tied at 59.
GAME NOTES: WMU is now 0-3 in overtime in MAC play…Douglas and Whitfield were the only Broncos to score in double figures, finishing with 15 and 12 respectively…Douglas finished with 8 assists…WMU out-rebounded Akron 47-37…Alex Abreu had 15 points to lead the Zips in scoring…Both teams struggled from behind the arc. Western went 3-17 and Akron 3-20…While the Broncos struggled from 3 point land, they only missed 4 free throws (23-27)…Western returns to action on Saturday as they travel to Buffalo to take on the Bulls. Tip-off is set for 6pm.