KALAMAZOO, MI (1660 The Fan) – Survive and advance is a popular term herd during the month of March in college basketball. The term held serve on Wednesday night as the Broncos survived in overtime against North Dakota State in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational and will now advance to the next round with a 72-71 victory over the Bison on Wednesday night.
Shayne Whittington had 18 points and was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line but was held to a season-low three rebounds, in a large part due to the physical nature of the Bison big men.
NDSU jumped out early making their first six shots and were up 15-2 15:56 into the game as the Broncos struggled to keep up with the Bison’s up tempo pace. But WMU settled down and slowly chipped away at the deficit and trailed by only four at halftime, 32-28.
The Bison held onto the lead until Connar Tava threw up a spectacular shot that somehow found the bottom of the basket, giving the Broncos a 44-43 lead with 11:45 left in the game.
The Broncos remained on top for the rest of the second half until TrayVonn Wright sunk a jump shot with 2.5 seconds left to tie the game at 62-62 and forcing an extra frame.
In the extra frame, NDSU started hot, and were up five 69-64 with 2:39 left in OT. But once again the Broncos chipped away at the lead and were only down by a point 71-70, when Tava sunk two more free throws to put the Broncos back on top for good with 13 seconds left. NDSU was able to get two more shots with less than four seconds to go but both attempts came up short.
WMU will now face Wyoming on Monday in Laramie, after the Cowboys defeated Lehigh 67-66 in their opening round matchup on Tuesday. This will be the first time a Steve Hawkins coached team will face Wyoming (20-13, 4-12 Mountain West Conference).
Bison leading scorer Taylor Braun was held to only 10 points on 2-9 shooting from the field.
Brandon Pokely scored 15 for the Broncos, while David Brown and Tava had 12 and 10 respectively off the bench.