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March 20, 2013
The Western Michigan Broncos narrowly escaped their first round CBI matchup with a thrilling overtime victory against the North Dakota State Bison Wednesday night, prevailing 72-71.
North Dakota State jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead in the first 2:54 of the game, forcing WMU head coach Steve Hawkins to call a timeout and regroup. The Bison didn't let off the gas, leading by as much as 13 early, not missing a shot from the field (7/7) until 14:26 left in the first half.
The Broncos would slowly get back into the game with the help of redshirt junior center Shayne Whittington scoring WMU's first eight points to trim the Bison lead to 17-8.
A Brandon Pokley three-pointer at the 5-minute mark would finally provide a spark for 1,358 fans at University Arena, bringing the Broncos back to within just three points. Western Michigan trailed 32-28 at halftime.
The Broncos would open up the second half on a 6-2 run to tie the game at 34 apiece. Western Michigan continued to battle the Bison, surging ahead 44-43 for the first time all evening after an acrobatic Connar Tava layup. On the next possession, freshman Taylor Perry knocked down a deep ball to extend WMU's lead to four.
With 4:24 left in the game, David Brown hit a dagger from deep, giving the Broncos their largest lead of the night at 58-47. North Dakota State would implement a full-court press with about three minutes left in the game, that would disrupt the Broncos rhythm and allow the Bison to get back in the game.
Coming down to the last possession of regulation, North Dakota State fired up several desperation shots before one miss in particular took a fortunate bounce kicking out to TrayVonn Wright for a game-tying 15-foot jumper with 2.5 seconds left.
The Broncos would try one last heave from mid-court to attempt to win the game, but the ball ended up sailing out of bounds after what appeared to be a designed alley-oop to Nate Hutcheson failed.
NDSU jumped out to a 7-2 run in overtime, but the Broncos would once again surge back and re-take the lead thanks to a pair of Connar Tava free-throws with 14 seconds remaining. The Bison had a couple of good looks in the final seconds of the game, but weren't able to put the ball through the basket and the Broncos hung on.
NDSU's TrayVonn Wright led all scorers with 23 points and 8 rebounds. WMU's Shayne Whittington led the Broncos with 18 points, while Brandon Pokley and David Brown pitched in 15 and 12 respectively.
The Broncos will travel to Laramie, Wyoming next week to face the Wyoming Cowboys in the second round of the CBI. The Cowboys (20-13) are fresh off a dramatic 67-66 buzzer-beater win against Lehigh.
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