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March 8, 2012The Western Michigan men's basketball team authored a furious rally late in the second half to pull within striking distance, but were unable to extend their season in falling 76-72 to the Kent State Golden Flashes in the quarterfinal round of the 2012 First Energy MAC Tournament. With the loss, the Broncos finish the season with a 14-20 record.
WMU trailed by as many as 19 points in the second half, when Justin Greene hit a jumper to make it 68-49 with 8:02 remaining. To make matters worse, sophomore center Matt Stainbrook had been ejected from the game just one minute earlier for an apparent elbow to the head of a Kent State player.
However, as they had done many times before in the 2011-12 season, the Broncos pulled themselves off the mat and nearly shocked the Golden Flashes, outscoring Kent State 23-8 in the final eight minutes of the game to nearly pull off the upset. The Broncos cut out their first big chunk when Brandon Pokley hit a three-pointer at the 7:41 mark, and Demetrius Ward scored on an old fashioned three-point play on the ensuing possession.
The lead would be cut to single-digits at the 5:16 mark, when Ward made a pair of free throws to make the score 70-62. The comeback would briefly stall out, but Mike Douglas buried a three from the right wing at the 1:11 mark to make it a six-point game. Douglas would make one more three, this time with nine seconds remaining, to make it 75-72. The Broncos were unable to get that one last basket, however, and the Golden Flashes walked off with the win.
The Broncos trailed the Golden Flashes for the duration of the first half, but they were able to put together a late run to cut what was a 12-point lead to just a five-point deficit at the period break. Trailing 35-23 with 2:56 remaining, the Broncos went on a 7-0 run to close the half and strike some fear in the Golden Flashes. Matt Stainbrook would strip Carlton Guyton on the defensive end and tip the ball out to Demetrius Ward, who took off on the fast break and found Stainbrook under the hoop for the easy lay-up.
Ward would strike again before the half was over, taking control of the ball from the deep left wing and facing his man one-on-one. Ward pulled up and fired a long three-point attempt to cut Kent State's lead to 35-28 with 55 seconds remaining. WMU would get a defensive stop and hold on for the last shot, and they capitalized on the opportunity when Mike Douglas drove to the hoop, made a lay-up, and drew a blocking foul from Justin Manns with 0.7 seconds remaining. The foul shot was off the mark, but the Broncos had made the score 35-30 at the end of the half.
The Golden Flashes would get hot to start the second half, opening the proceedings with a 9-2 run to build their lead back up to 12 points at the first media timeout. Kent State would keep up the pressure and eventually stretch their lead to 13 points at the 11:55 mark. All told, the Golden Flashes outscored the Broncos 17-9 to start the second half, going 7 of 11 from the field through two media timeouts to pull away from the Broncos.
WMU would cut the deficit to single digits with a small 5-0 run that was sparked by their ability to attack the hoop; Flenard Whitfield drove baseline, hit a hook shot, and drew a foul; he would go on to convert the three-point play. Hutcheson would drain an open three from the left wing to cut the Kent State lead to 53-45, but the Golden Flashes would recover in a big way, going on a 15-4 run to make it 68-49 with 7:55 to play.
Still to come on BroncoBlitz
With the season officially at its end, we will turn our attention to the coming offseason. Specifically, BroncoBlitz plans to take a look at the seven members of the class of 2012 and where they may fit into next year's young lineup, as well as who may join in the class of 2013. The site will also analyze coach Steve Hawkins' job performance and where he stands going into next season.
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