KALAMAZOO - The Western Michigan Broncos (7-13, 4-3) couldn't hold off a second half surge by the Kent State Golden Flashes (10-11, 3-4), dropping their third MAC contest in four games, 65-47, at University Arena during the 2009 Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend. The WMU and KSU coaching staffs both sported tennis shoes and suits to show support for the Coaches vs. Cancer program.
KSU shot over 65 percent in the second half and outscored the Broncos by 17 points to build on its one point lead at halftime, and eventually jumped out to an insurmountable 20 point lead mid-way through the half.
The Broncos committed 17 turnovers, making it difficult to answer a 30-11 scoring run by KSU to begin the second half. The WMU bench was outscored 24-8 and Kent State showed its depth with four players scoring in double digits.
WMU junior David Kool scored a game-high 18 points and freshman forward Flenard Whitfield added nine points and seven rebounds in the losing effort.
Post Game Quotes
Kent State head coach Geno Ford
(On coming back from an early deficit) "The first 10 minutes, we resembled a really bad soccer team. We got a few shots on goal and never scored and they guarded well. I thought they guarded us pretty well in the second half too and I look at the stat sheet and we shot 65 percent. There were a lot of possessions where there were broken plays and we run something, the ball gets stripped and ends up bouncing in a free area and it just always fell into our guys hands. That's the best we've played all year and sometimes you generate your own breaks to a degree, but we were fortunate a lot of balls just bounced to where we were and we were able to make some easy layups off what would have been a nothing trip and they missed a lot of really good looks. Drews is the best shooter in our league, arguably, and he was 0-for-4 and got some pretty good looks. We were fortunate to get a win.
"We just got lucky. The second half was the best we've looked. We haven't even looked that good in practice."
Western Michigan head coach Steve Hawkins
(On the game) "I thought that the big difference here today was the guard play. Their guards just dominated the last 30 minutes of the game with their energy. After they got to playing with confidence we really had problems. We couldn't get ourselves into anything. We wanted to play the game from the inside out, but as we started to drive the basketball I thought they did a good job of not just helping, but attacking the ball and that created a lot of turnovers. Going into the game we were ranked No. 1 in the MAC in fewest turnovers and they were No. 1 in the MAC in forcing turnovers and they won that battle today.
"They shot 65 percent in the second half, 66 percent from the three-point line and a lot of that had to do with the confidence they were playing with at that point. We had an opportunity with a 10-point lead in the first half to really try and get after them and extend the lead and we couldn't do that. They had a one-point lead at halftime and when they did smell the blood they really came after us and put us away.
"I think the biggest story here was their guards. Their guards really got through all screens, their guards really put a lot of pressure on us, forced us to turn the ball over and when we turned the ball over they turned it into points."
(On the mood at halftime) "I didn't like our energy in the halftime locker room. We addressed it right before they went out on the court. We came out and swung at them and delivered the first blow, but they came back at us and delivered a blow as well and we didn't respond to that well."
(On how they address this game) "I think the thing kids really want, especially good kids, which we have, I think they want answers. You look at the film, you dissect it and go back and show them exactly what went wrong. If you don't, they could make the exact same mistakes again and I wouldn't be doing my job as a coach.
"There is no time for negativity. This is absolutely no time for negativity, we're in the middle of a race. Ball State won today, so we're right in the middle of race here. You've got to get hungry and go back out on the road and pick up road wins where you picked up a couple of home losses."
Post Game Analysis
This game was the tale of two halves. A first half where the Bronco offense was able to get out and run, and did a nice job of defending dribble penetration.
A second half where Kent simply stopped respecting any sort of Bronco inside game and began extending their defense out. Until the Broncos can establish a consistent inside threat, or can dribble penetrate and score, teams will continue to do exactly what Ford and Kent State did today.
At times Whitfield showed he could seal his man off, but rarely was the ball delivered to him. The Kent defense had Western extended out so far, that it was taking half the possession just to get into an offensive set.
Hawkins stated after the game that this team has a tendency to get down on itself. If that's the case this could turn into a long season. The Broncos now face a 4 game stretch that includes Bowling Green, Akron, and Miami on the road, along with Ohio at home. If Hawkins & Company cannot find an inside game soon, Western may face a 4-7 record before returning to MAC West play.