Western Michigan Men Battle Back in Final Minutes for Victory over Kent State
Taking the court just after the WMU women lost the lead and the game in the final minutes to in-state rival Central Michigan, the Bronco men got set for a showdown with Kent State and looked to flip the script in game two.
Flip the script they did. While the first game saw a late comeback for the away team, the second game of the doubleheader gave fans the exact opposite storyline. The comeback seemed a desperation play by the Broncos who had gone 1-4 since Christmas and needed to regain momentum as they hope to make moves before the MAC conference tournament to be held in Indianapolis in just over a month.
The Broncos battled for the first 20 minutes and even included a rare four point play by junior guard Rafael Cruz Jr. that dropped through the bottom of the net as he was dropped just outside the corner baseline as cameras flashed around the product of Chicago, IL. Though the Broncos took a narrow 30-25 lead into the half over the Golden Flashes, Kent State came out of the locker room with renewed pep in their step and the Broncos began to look outmatched in the second half with the game slipping through their fingers. Things began to look increasingly grim as time waned and momentum had shifted completely in favor of the away team.
However, that is when the Broncos kicked things into gear on the back of several big plays with juniors Cruz Jr., Brandon Johnson and Michael Flowers lighting things up from the floor. The scoring spree was not enough on its own, but Western coupled the offensive hot streak with increased energy and momentum on the defensive end to begin shutting down Kent State’s scoring altogether with their last field goal dropping through with 4:37 to go in the game. In total, Kent State held the lead or tie for over 30 of the 40 minutes, but the final seconds were all WMU needed. Johnson would eventually seal the game with big free throws that ensured the comeback was complete, giving the Broncos a much needed 67-63 victory at home.
Western Michigan now enters a crucial phase of their conference schedule that pits them against juggernaut Buffalo University on the road before other middling conference squads Northern Illinois, Central Michigan and Miami Ohio.