The Western Michigan University Men’s basketball team knew Tuesday night was going to be a challenge, but failed to put up a valiant fight as they fell easily to the No. 3 ranked University of Michigan Wolverines 41-73 at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.
Sophomore All-American point guard Trey Burke led the charge against the Broncos scoring 20 points on 8 of 11 field goals and dishing out seven assists.
Freshman forward Darius Paul notched his seventh consecutive double-digit scoring effort for the Broncos, scoring 10 points on only 3-of-12 shooting from the floor. He also grabbed 10 rebounds to contribute his first double-double of his career.
The Broncos competed early on as they trailed the Wolverines by only five at 20-15 with 7:35 remaining in the first half, but Michigan would soon go on a 15-2 run to end the half leading 35-21 as they ratcheted up the pressure on defense and forced the Broncos into committing 13 costly turnovers.
WMU Coach Steve Hawkins was frustrated with his team’s carelessness with the ball.
“We really shot ourselves in the foot with the turnovers we had in the first half,” Hawkins said. “I think it led to 16 points for them in the first half. I didn’t think we were doing a bad job of guarding them in the half court, but we got into trouble when we turned it over and they were able to get into transition.”
The Broncos seemed to be simply outmatched by the more experienced and talented Michigan squad and the game got out of hand quickly in the second half.
Burke was unstoppable all night and he continued to puzzle the Bronco defense with his nifty moves late in the game as he converted a three-point play with a jumper and the foul to make it 51-28 with 13:07 remaining.
It was 51-34 with 10:44 left, and the Wolverines then went on a 22-2 run to expand their lead to 73-36 with 2:35 to go in the game.
The Broncos struggled to get anything going and ended the night shooting a dismal 28.9 percent, hitting only 13 of 45 shots from the field and 2 of 17 from beyond the arc.
It was the Broncos most lopsided loss of the season, but Hawkins said it wasn’t due to a lack of effort. They were just up against a far superior team.
“I was really proud of how hard we played, for the most part, all night long,” Hawkins said.
“They’re a great basketball team. They countered, and for the most part it was Trey Burke. He’s a big-time player that makes everyone better.”
The Broncos (6-2) will try to get back in the win column when they travel to Illinois State to take on another tough road test against the Redbirds (5-3) this Saturday at 8 p.m.