Broncos top the MAC West

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP)—Derek Drews scored a game-high 17 points, including four 3-pointers, leading Western Michigan to a 71-52 victory over Northern Illinois on Saturday afternoon.
Michael Redell also hit four 3-pointers as Western Michigan (6-10, 3-0 Mid-American) totaled a season-best 14 3-pointers on 14-of-28 shooting and won its third consecutive game. Redell scored a season-high 15 points.
Sean Kowal led Northern Illinois (5-10, 1-2) with 14 points, and Sean Smith and Darion Anderson each added 11.
Western Michigan freshman center LaMarcus Lowe came off the bench to grab a game-high eight rebounds. Western Michigan's bench outscored the Northern Illinois bench, 22-5.
David Kool added 12 points for Western Michigan and Andre Ricks had 11.
Western Michigan never trailed, scoring the game's first five points and cruising ahead by 20 in the last minute of the first half.
WMU was superb from beyond the arc, hitting a season-high 14-of-28 attempts, which is tied for the second-most three-point makes in school history. Even more impressive when you consider that the line was moved back a foot this year. Seniors Mike Redell and Derek Drews set the tone from three-point land as they each hit 4-of-7 triples, which is a career-high for Redell. Senior guard Andre Ricks added three triples and contributed 11 total points.
Drews finished with a game-high 17 points, while Redell chipped in 15 points and seven assists. Junior David Kool scored in double-digits for 15th time this season with 12 points.
Freshman LaMarcus Lowe rejected three Huskie shots into the stands, giving him 11 blocks in the past three games. He also grabbed eight boards for the Broncos.
Post game quotes from Steve Hawkins
(On the game) "It was a great week for us and not just from the standpoint that we won three ball games, but we played well. I saw some development from the team and from individuals throughout the week. We gained a lot of confidence individually, which helps us collectively as a basketball team and that may be the thing that we got out of this week that matters as much as anything else and should serve us well through the rest of the season."
(On the difference a week makes with three wins) "Consistency was what we were striving for and I think that we found a decent level of consistency throughout the week and I can't tell you how important it is for a team to have confidence and they needed to see if they do things a certain way, they do things correctly from a technique standpoint, to effort and you combine all of it that you're going to get results. There's a direct correlation between work, effort and concentration on the front end and results on the back end."
(On the 3-0 start to MAC play) "We knew in the first place there was no way this team was ever going to be able to contend for a postseason bid throughout our non-conference schedule. We're just too young. I hate to use the term, but there's no question that we knew this was going to be a rebuilding year and at the same time you don't want to go 3-10 going into conference play.
"We knew as a coaching staff changes we wanted to make and we started making them a month ago and told the team we weren't going to show them until conference play because there was just no sense in it. We knew we needed to get off to a quick start."
(On Michael Redell) "He's a very heady player and at times, too cerebral, that's been one of the conversations I've had with over the last three years. He's got very good instincts for the game. It doesn't serve him well to think the game too hard. He should just play the game and trust his instincts. The game is just coming easier to him.
"The other thing that didn't help Mike earlier this year was playing with all these new guys. It didn't help any of us. Somebody's zigging when they should of zagged. Everybody had to get used to everybody and I think we are moving in that direction. People are looking to Mike to get them basketball and he played a tremendous floor game. Not just shooting the ball. Mike did a great job on a very, very good offensive player in DiNunno."
Post game analysis
It would be premature to say the MAC West is over, but I'll say it anyway. It's over. Barring a host of injuries the Broncos should win the MAC West going away. A week ago NIU rallied to beat Ball State at Muncie, and that was with Anthony Newell. Newell is now done for the season, and today BSU lost to a poor Central Michigan team.
If the Broncos can stay healthy and weather Donald Lawson's health issues the Broncos could very well be the team to beat in Cleveland. While Lawson recovers, the freshmen on this team have begun to step up, and are starting to learn how important the little things are.
Lamarcus Lowe continues to impress. Not only is he an imposing shot blocker, but he's shown a nice touch from the line, and a great set of hands. While he lacks the strength to dominate the boards, he still grabs rebounds with his length and his good hands. He is the classic example of an athlete who gets better with every outing.
Demetrius Ward didn't have a great game today like he did on Wednesday, but he still produced when he got in. He moves his feet on defense very well, has quick hands, and has a great first step offensively. Ward is the best dribble penetrator I've seen at Western in a long time, and he's only going to get better.
Mike Redell had what might be his best overall game as a Bronco. Redell was 4 for 7 from three, had 7 assists, and added 2 steals. Had he gone scoreless it still would have been a banner outing for the Rockford senior who has struggled with consistency.
Lastly, Derek Drews is showing the potential he showed as a sophomore when he led the MAC in three point shooting. Drews was deadly from thee point range, going 4-7 and finishing with 17 points, but he also defended well, and showed some of his inside game.
My one concern in this game came at the start of the second half when NIU went to a zone. Until zone-buster Dre Ricks started heating up the Huskies were making a real run. The Broncos were able to get the ball inside on the zone, but were not able to finish. Rest assured other teams will be throwing a zone at the Broncos.
Around the MAC as of 6:00 PM Saturday
CMU 71 BSU 65
Miami 66 Kent State 55
Buffalo 70 Ohio U 66
The Broncos will travel to Muncie, Ind. on Tuesday, Jan. 20 to face division opponent Ball State for a chance to either play for or hold onto the lead in the MAC West. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.