By Phill Swanson
Saturday night, junior guard David Kool didn’t have ice water running through his veins. He was suffering from a nasty case of frostbite.
Kool, for the first time since his freshman year, was held without a field goal. He would finally get on the scoreboard with a series of late game free throws in Western Michigan University’s 64-46 loss to Miami University of Ohio.
“They did a good job of staying aggressive and staying with me the whole game,” Kool said. “They really slanted their defense toward me the whole game. Whenever I got the ball, it always seemed like there were two or three more guys jumping out at me.”
The RedHawks didn’t just hold Kool to 0-for-11 from the field for the game, but held the rest of the Broncos to under 27 percent shooting. Despite the horrendous shooting, the Broncos trailed by only one at half.
“I thought it was a tale of two halves,” head coach Steve Hawkins said. “Obviously, the first half was just a bloodbath. Both teams went at each other hard. Both teams played good defense. Both teams really struggled to get anything going offensively. Neither team was able to get into a rhythm. We were battling foul trouble and we made some really dumb fouls that allowed them to stay in it. I felt like we could have been up 4, 5, 6 points had we not committed as many fouls.”
The tale of two halves included a depressing story arch for the Broncos.
With 5:16 left in the first half, Michael Redell hit a three-pointer to extend the lead to five. However, the Broncos would not score over the last 3:08. Miami would mount an 8-2 run and finish the half ahead, 23-22.
Nineteen turnovers, including 11 steals by the RedHawks dismantled Kool and the Bronco offense. Kool’s output, or lack thereof, was amplified by a dormant Bronco bench.
“Some other players have to step up,” Hawkins said. “When they do get the ball delivered to them, some other players have to finish. We didn’t finish well around the basket. We had a chance to do that. If we had finished around the basket, that would have made their big guys stay a little more honest with our big guys, instead of helping as much as they did on David.”
The Broncos’ inability to finish resulted in only 12-of-45 shooting from the field. However, they did shoot 6-of-13 from behind the arc. This lone bright was covered up by Miami’s dominance in the paint, outscoring the Brown and Gold 26-12 there.
The Broncos were able to cut the lead to four, 33-29, with 12:08 left in the second half. That was as close as they got, though. Miami put the clamp down over the next 8:18, allowing only one field goal.
“We showed a lack of patience offensively,” Hawkins said. “When we got down six, seven or eight points, we really needed to calm down and make a defensive stand and stay with execution offensively. We didn’t do that and all of a sudden the lead goes from seven to 12 or 13 and against Miami, you might as well be down by 20 because of the way that they play.” The lone bright spot came in the confident play of freshman guard Demetrius Ward. Ward even spent time at the point, and gives the future of the Bronco front court something to look forward to.
Western Michigan will return home for the next two games. Eastern Michigan University travels to University Arena Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Eastern Illinois University comes to town for ESPNU Bracket Busters Saturday afternoon.