By Bryan Paas
The men’s basketball team lost on the road against Toledo 83-74 on Saturday, bringing their record on the season to 12-17 and their conference mark to 6-8. Meanwhile, Toledo brought their record to 15-14 on the season and 6-8 in conference. With the win, Toledo avenged their loss earlier in the season, when the Broncos had crushed Toledo at home, 74-52.
The Broncos came out strong in the first half, starting the game on a 15-8 run. Matt Stainbrook scored 12 of the Broncos’ first 15 points, but he would only score two more points in the rest of the game. Toledo proceeded to close the gap but the Broncos led most of the way in a tightly played first half. With 4:02 to play in the first half, Nate Hutcheson was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all 3 free throws pushing the lead to 5 points, but Toledo responded with a 10-2 run claiming a 3 point lead of their own when the score sat at 44-41 with 1:28 to play prompting a time out from Western Michigan. Mike Douglas made a jumper to cut the lead to one, and Toledo went into halftime with a slim 44-43 lead.
Both teams were red hot from the floor in the first half with Western Michigan shooting 57 percent and Toledo shooting 59. Matt Stainbrook scored 12 in the half, leading the team, Flenard Whitfield contributed 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
Toledo started the second half on another 10-4 run as they stretched out their lead. With 13:29 remaining in the second half, Toledo’s lead was 13, and the score was 62-49. The Broncos trailed by 10 with 6:05 to go when they made their push, Flenard Whitfield started the run by scoring 5 straight points, Matt Stainbrook and Demetrius Ward also scored as the Broncos cut the lead to one, 72-71 with 3:46 remaining in the game. The run culminated when Mike Douglas made a lay-up to give the Broncos the lead for the first time in the half. Toledo regained the lead 17 seconds later on a jumper from Julius Brown and they never gave it back as they sealed the game from the free throw line, making 5 of 6 in the last minute of regulation.
In the game, the Broncos were led by Flenard Whitfield who had 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists to lead the team in each category but 4 Broncos scored in double digits. They shot fairly well in the game, making their shots at just above a 49 percent clip, but they were only 5-17 from 3-point range. They also held a slim edge in rebounding 33-30. Toledo was led by Dominique Buckley with 16 points,and they had 5 players in double figure scoring as they shot 48 percent from the floor. As a team, Toledo made 9 3-pointers out of 19 and were an efficient 14-18 from the free throw line. The Broncos held Toledo under 40 percent shooting in the second half, but Toledo was stingy with the ball the entire game, turning it over only 5 times and only once in the second half.
There are only 2 games remaining in the regular season for the Broncos now. The first Wednesday, Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. which is the last home game of the season for the Broncos and as such it is senior night and they will take on Eastern Michigan who is currently leading the MAC west division. In the final game of the season, the Broncos will be on the road to take on rival Central Michigan on Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m. Then all that remains on the schedule for the Broncos is the MAC Conference tournament.