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December 1, 2012

Western Michigan defeats in-state rival Oakland 76-72

The Western Michigan Broncos and the Oakland Golden Grizzlies played one for the ages today at University Arena, in just the second game in a recently renewed in-state annual series between the two schools. In what was a hard-fought game throughout, the Broncos edged out Oakland 76-72 in a last minute thriller.

The game began at a furious pace, in favor of the Oakland Grizzlies as they got out and pushed it up the floor early and often. Several unfavorable calls went against the Broncos as Coach Hawkins shared his frustrations by hitting the scores table, which echoed throughout University Arena.

Heading into the second media timeout the Grizzlies continued the pace following a pair of Duke Mondy and Travis Bader three-pointers as they led 18-15 with 11:49 to play in the first half.

The Broncos continued to play catch-up throughout most of the first half as Shayne Whittington swatted a Travis Bader layup right before throwing down a powerful dunk with 9:32 left to bring Western Michigan to within just one.

The excitement at University Arena continued to grow after a Darius Paul layup with 3:20 left to tie the game at 31.

Emotions ran high heading into half-time, as the Grizzlies nearly committed a flagrant foul against freshman Jared Klein, as senior walk-on Dan Loney exchanged words with Oakland big man Corey Petros. The Broncos seized some momentum and went into the locker room with a 40-36 lead after 5 ties and 10 lead changes in the first half.

The second half picked up right where the first half left off, with 9 total fouls before the first media timeout. Both teams exchanged punches until the Broncos took a 51-48 lead on a Shayne Whittington alley-oop from Jared Klein forced Oakland head coach Greg Kampe to call a timeout with 14:21 remaining to quiet down an electrified University Arena.

The momentum continued after a missed dunk by Grizzlies center Corey Petros, and another Shayne Whittington put-back and Connar Tava layup to extend the Broncos lead to seven with 11:42 remaining.

The battle ensued after the referees sent senior Nate Hutcheson to the bench to clean blood off his right arm following yet another questionable non-call.

The Broncos and Grizzlies remained in a tight one tied at 65 heading into the final media timeout of the game, until redshirt junior center Shayne Whittington fouled out with 2:12 left recording 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 blocks.

Just when it seemed the Grizzlies might pull away, Austin Richie hit a fall-away three with 1:47 remaining to tie the game at 70 apiece. Senior Nate Hutcheson drained two free-throws, and on the following possession, Oakland inexplicably lost the ball out-of-bounds to give the ball right back to Western Michigan with only 53 seconds left.

Nearly causing a shot-clock violation on what appeared to be the Broncos last possession of the game, senior Brandon Pokley threw up a desperation air-ball three that was cleaned up by Dan Loney with 24 seconds remaining to give the Broncos a 74-70 lead.

After two Corey Petros free-throws and two Austin Richie counter free-throws, the Broncos held on to win a hard-fought game 76-72.

BroncoBlitz.com will have more quotes from the post-game press conference following today's action. The Broncos next game is at #3 Michigan at Crisler Arena this Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

A few other significant notes from tonight's game:

- Butler transfer Chris Harrison-Docks was in attendance watching today's game on an official visit. BroncoBlitz.com spoke with Harrison-Docks briefly before the game and has more here in "The Zoo" premium forum.
- Paul Hazel was dressed for today's game as opposed to Thursday's game vs. High Point where he was simply wearing gray WMU sweats. Hazel was putting on a show in pre-game warmups throwing down some pretty impressive dunks. It's still unclear whether or not Hazel will get any game time (or even be eligible this year), but he already looks game-ready, which shouldn't be a surprise coming off of football season.


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