Courtesy: Sean Fagan, Assistant Director of Media Relations
Fondi, Italy - The Western Michigan men's basketball team dominated the glass in their first game against foreign competition, as the Broncos defeated Basket Fondi 87-78 on Monday. The Broncos are now 1-0 on their 2012 European trip, and will have Tuesday off before facing Stella Azzura on Wednesday.
The Broncos utilized a combination of solid shooting and dominant rebounding to drop their opponents, out-rebounding Basket Fondi 43-24 and knocking down 48.5 percent of their shots from the field. Freshman Darius Paul contributed seven points and a game-high seven rebounds, including three offensive boards; meanwhile, four different players reached double-digit scoring for the Broncos, including Jared Klein, who had a team-high 13 points.
Shayne Whittington finished just behind Klein with 12 points and also contributed five rebounds; Hayden Hoerdemann shot 3 of 6 from beyond the three-point arc for 11 points; and freshman Connor Tava had a solid debut with 10 points, seven rebounds, a block, and a steal.
Basket Fondi actually led after one quarter of play, but the Broncos would take their first lead on the very first possession of the second quarter. Freshman Kellen McCormick corralled a defensive rebound and shot it to Klein, who went coast to coast for the transition lay-up to give the Broncos an 18-17 lead. They tacked on to the lead just seconds later when A.J. Avery stole a pass on the next defensive possession and flipped it to Klein, who again scored the fast break lay-up to give WMU a three-point lead.
Basket Fondi would bounce back and take a four-point lead at the 6:34 mark of the second quarter, but the Broncos would kick off a 17-3 run to close the quarter and take a 40-30 lead into halftime. The run was sparked by solid free throw shooting; after Nate Hutcheson scored on a short jumper to cut the lead to two points, Austin Richie and Shayne Whittington each made a pair of free throws to take the 29-27 lead. Brandon Pokley would notch a three-pointer to make it 32-27, and the lead would swell to 10 points when Taylor Perry and Darius Paul scored fast break lay-ups on back-to-back possessions.
Klein would help the Broncos to their largest lead of the quarter early in the third, recording a pair of free throws to give WMU a 48-32 lead at the 8:13 mark of the third quarter. Avery would tie that lead for the Broncos at the 2:22 mark of the third stanza with a lay-up to make it 62-46 as the Broncos continued to control the tempo of the game.
The Broncos reached their high water mark in the fourth quarter, when Pokley drained a trey to make the score 79-58 early in the final period. Hayden Hoerdemann maintained the 20-point lead with a jumper at the 5:52 mark, and the Broncos cruised down the stretch to the victory.
Shortly after the Broncos arrived back at their hotel after a two hour bus ride, Assistant Coach David Kool tweeted the following:
@DKool23: Plenty to take away from game but its great to have kids that play hard and are eager to learn and listen! Going to be a fun year! #Euro2K12
Western Michigan's next game is this Wednesday in Florence against Stella Azzurra.