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Broncos gut out sixth straight win, down Oakland 76-72

by

Note: For WMU men’s basketball score updates, text BRONCOS to 80373

KALAMAZOO (WKZO) – Darius Paul scored 12 points, reaching double digits for the sixth consecutive game and helping the Broncos finish off a gritty Oakland Grizzlies team at home 76-72.

Paul’s feat of six consecutive games with 10 or more points hasn’t been done by a freshman since David Kool did so in 2002. Nate Hutcheson recorded 13 points including going 6-of-8 from the free throw line. Shayne Whittington led Western Michigan with 14 points before fouling out at the 2:12 mark of the second half.

The Broncos weathered a tough surge in the first half by Oakland to take a 40-36 lead into the locker room. Western Michigan shot 50 percent (14-28) from the field in the opening half while holding the Grizzlies to 38.7 (12-31), and finished 47.2 percent (25-53) for the game compared to Oakland’s 36.1 percent (22-61). In a game that saw 18 lead changes, free throws were crucial for both teams, and both teams finished 73.3 percent from the stripe.

Much like Thursday’s game, Western Michigan had to again overcome a second half slump, watching a seven point lead at the 12:21 mark of the second turn into a deficit with time winding down. In similar fashion, Austin Richie rose to the occasion, hitting a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 70 with 1:48 to go. Oakland’s only points the rest of the way were two free throws while the Broncos continued to find success in the paint, scoring four big points down low in the final seconds, and finishing the game with 36 points in the paint.

Western Michigan improves to 6-1, and takes a six game winning streak to Ann Arbor on Tuesday for a battle with the #4 Wolverines.

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