Kalamazoo, MI (WKZO) – After missing the first half of the season while rehabbing a knee injury, David Brown has been a spark plug off the bench since returning to action for the Broncos. And Wednesday night at University Arena was no different. Brown had a career high 22 points, 16 coming in the 2nd half, to lead the Broncos to an 82-76 victory over Kent State, their first in six years over the Golden Flashes.
“It’s a different feeling coming off the bench,” Brown said. “Once you get in there you just get into a groove.”
And Brown has definitely been in groove. He has averaged 10.7 points per game since returning from the knee injury he suffered back in December 2011. But any chance of him moving to the starting lineup was quickly shot down by the redshirt-junior guard.
“I would say no," Brown said when asked if he would return to the starting lineup if Coach Hawkins asked him. “Why change something that’s working for us right now? Everybody has accepted their role and it has been working wonders, so why change it?”
And Coach Hawkins certainly agrees
“I wouldn’t do it either. We don’t want to change that much right now. Everyone knows when they are coming in and what they are going to do and you don’t want to mess with that.”
And why should they change anything? The Broncos have now won seven games in a row, their longest MAC winning streak in the Coach Hawkins Era.
Shayne Whittington had 21 points and 13 rebounds for his seventh double-double this season, the most for a Bronco since Joe Reitz had 10 in 2006-07 season.
The Golden Flashes led the entire first half and held a 10 point advantage at 28-18. While the Broncos were able to chip away at their lead, they trailed 38-32 at the break.
Kent State maintained the lead until Brown drilled a 3-pointer and was fouled. After making the free throw the Broncos were in the lead for the first time at the 13:42 mark, 50-49. But the lead was short lived, as Kent State rallied back and by the 7:35 point were back up eight, 68-60.
Over the next three minutes of play the Broncos once again were able to tie the game, after Nate Hutchenson’s tip in evened the contest at 70.
Two free throws for Brown with 1:41 left put WMU back up 77-76. Then after a missed Kent State shot, Whittington was fouled while attacking the basket. Shayne made both attempts at the line to put the Broncos up three and the game was all but out of reach for Kent State.
While Brown and Whittington were clutch late they found motivation from a rowdy student section that really came alive towards the end of the game.
“The atmosphere was great," Brown said. “That might have been the craziest our crowd has ever been. It was great seeing the student section actually packed. It was great.”
Game Notes: Hutchenson also finished in double figures with 13…Austin Richie, who was battling a stomach flu, played 29 minutes but only scored one point on 0-3 shooting from the floor…The Broncos shot 40 free throws, thanks to 31 fouls by Kent…Kent State had four players finish in double-figures. Chris Evans led the way with 19…WMU went 2-7 from behind the arc in the first half and 5-8 in the second half…Western maintains a game lead over Toledo in the MAC West with the win…Next up for the Broncos, a trip down to Muncie, Indiana to take on the Ball State Cardinals Saturday evening. Tip-off is set for 6pm.