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February 25, 2012The Western Michigan men's basketball team nearly erased a 15-point second half deficit, but came up just short in falling 81-74 at Savage Arena on Saturday. With the loss, the Broncos fall to 12-17 on the season, 6-8 in Mid-American Conference play. Flenard Whitfield finished with a team-high 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting, and also added a game-high eight rebounds.
The Rockets opened the second half on a 10-4 run, with Matt Smith and Reese Holliday knocking down threes to open up the lead to 54-45 at the 15:50 mark. The heat from the Rockets kept coming as Rian Pearson scored five more points on consecutive possessions to make it 59-45 and force a Bronco timeout at the 14:32 mark.
The lead would balloon to 15 points with 13:29 remaining, but the Broncos would get to work on wiping out the deficit with an 11-3 run late in the second half. Whitfield would convert a three-point play to make it 69-63, and would add another lay up to make it 72-65 at the 5:39 mark. Demetrius Ward cut the lead to just three points when he knocked down an open three from the left wing, and Mike Douglas made it just 72-71 at the 2:50 mark with a lay-up out of a dead ball.
The Rockets counterpunched with a lay-up from Brown and a jumper from Holliday, but the Broncos would pull to within four points when Douglas spun to the hoop with a lay-up. WMU would do a good job trapping the ball against the Rockets, but Toledo was able to run the clock out and win the game 83-74.
The Broncos and Rockets opened the game with a tremendous display of offense, with both teams shooting the lights out to start the contest; WMU shot an impressive 17 of 30 (.567) from the field in the first half, while the Rockets went 17 of 29 (.586). Stainbrook was the chief offensive catalyst for the Broncos in the first half, scoring 12 of WMU's first 15 points as the Broncos jumped out to an early lead.
The Broncos would watch Matt Stainbrook score the first 10 points of the contest as the Rockets struggled to guard the sophomore; after Toledo cut the lead to 10-8, Demetrius Ward connected on a three from the right wing to stretch it back out, and Stainbrook capped his first half scoring with a lay up to make it 15-8 with 15:54 remaining in the half.
The Rockets stormed back, however, and it soon became a see-saw battle in the first half. Nate Hutcheson would briefly put the Broncos in control at the 4:20 mark when he scored on three foul shots, making it 37-34, but Toledo would go on a 10-4 run to close the half to enter the break with a 44-41 lead.
The Broncos now sit two games behind Eastern Michigan (13-16, 8-6 MAC) and face the Eagles at University Arena on Wednesday evening. WMU must win to keep their hopes of a share of the MAC West title alive.
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