Bronco Comeback Falls Short vs. Oakland
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Despite 24 points from senior guard Thomas Wilder and three other Broncos scoring in double figures, Western Michigan men's basketball dropped a tight contest to Preseason Horizon League favorite Oakland, 78-73 on Saturday afternoon inside University Arena.
WMU had four score in double figures for the first time since the season opener against Siena Heights with Wilder leading the way with 24 points. Wilder shot a staggering 50 percent (8-of-16) from the field and was 3-of-5 from beyond the three-point line. Wilder also grabbed three rebounds and dished out four assists.
Wilder has now scored in double digits in 27 straight games, the sixth longest streak in the nation. The Montgomery, Ill., native also became the first player in WMU history to amass 1,500 career points, 300 rebounds and 300 assists.
The loss snaps WMU's eight-game home winning streak and moves WMU to 4-4 on the season. The Broncos will remain home for the second game of a brief two-game home stand as they take on Cleveland State inside University Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Tip-Off is set for 7:00 p.m.
Off the bench, sophomore Reggie Jones had his best scoring performance of the season with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Over the past three games, Jones is averaging 11 points and three rebounds.
Reaching double figures for the third time this season was senior Drake LaMont with 12 points along with five rebounds. Junior Josh Davis came close to a double-double for the second consecutive game, registering 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Broncos forced Oakland to commit 14 turnovers and capitalized off those turnovers with 20 points. WMU outscored OU, 26-18 in the paint while the Golden Grizzlies outscored the Broncos, 12-4 on the fast break.
As a team, Western Michigan shot 46.8 percent from the field compared to Oakland's, 45.8 percent. The Oakland offense however was lethal from beyond the three-point line, connecting on 14 threes'. Five of the made three's belonged to Martez Walker, who finished with a game-high 32 points.
It was all Western Michigan to begin the game as WMU raced out to a 5-0 lead and ultimately a double digit lead, connecting on five of their next six field goals. Oakland battled back and went on a 10-2 run of their own to cut the WMU lead to 30-28 with five minutes remaining in the first. Davis had a dunk as the time expired in the first half to give WMU a 40-37 lead at the break. Wilder had 14 of his team-high 24 in the first half.
The Oakland offense came to life in the second half as the Golden Grizzlies embarked on an 18-3 run to grab the lead and extend it to double digits midway through the second half. Trailing 69-55 with seven minutes left, the Broncos rallied back with a 14-3 run to trail by five at the two-minute mark.
After both teams traded baskets, Western Michigan was down three with 30 seconds remaining before Davis grabbed his only steal of the night to give WMU the ball with 17 seconds left. On the ensuing Bronco possession, the ball was tipped by a WMU player and went out of bounds and gave Oakland the ball with five seconds remaining. OU's Walker made two free-throws to secure the game and hault the Bronco comeback.