The Western Michigan Broncos (13-17, 6-11) defended their home court in a win against the Eastern Michigan Eagles (16-14, 6-11) in Kalamazoo at University Arena on Tuesday night. EMU tied the Broncos at 35 with 17:07 left in the second half before being outscored 20-8 in the final nine minutes, ending with a 70-54 loss.
Ty Groce led the Eagles with 11 points, four rebounds and two blocks. Darion Spottsville and Yeikson Montero both scored 10 points for EMU. Boubacar Toure grabbed 12 rebounds but made just one basket from the field. Brandon Johnson scored a game-high 20 points and had 12 rebounds with two blocks for WMU. Michael Flowers added 12 points and Rafael Cruz Jr. scored 10 points.
The game was a chance for EMU coach Rob Murphy’s first regular season sweep against both Western Michigan and Central Michigan. The Eagles haven't swept the in-state rivals since the 1999-2000 season. Despite the loss, the Eagles finish the regular season 3-1 against their two major rivals.
Montero scored the game’s first basket for EMU but Western had a surge just after and went up six points with a layup made by Patrick Emilien with 12:22 left in the first half. The Eagles came back five minutes later after a made 3-pointer by Noah Morgan to tie the score at 16.
Western Michigan’s B. Artis White answered immediately with a 3-pointer on the other end. Spottsville and Groce scored layups to retake the lead. Morgan scored eight and White scored nine on the night. EMU’s last lead of the first half was with 4:26 left at 22-21. Johnson and Flowers tacked on points for WMU to head into the half with a 31-27 lead. The Eagles shot 2-for-11 from 3-point range and Montero had eight points in the first half.
Thomas Binelli hit a 3-pointer for the first score after halftime for EMU to make it 31-30. Johnson scored on the other end, then Spottsville made layups on two straight possessions to take the lead at 34-33. Flowers made a jump shot for WMU and Groce made two free throws for the Eagles’ last lead of the game with 17:01 remaining. Binelli scored five points and shot 1-for-11 from 3-point range for the game.
WMU kept the separation on the scoreboard for the rest of the night, shooting 44% from the field and out-rebounding EMU 23-17 in the second half. The Broncos shot 25 free throws and the bench scored an impressive 23 points. EMU shot just 20% from long range, their eighth game of shooting 20% or below on the season.
Eastern Michigan’s final regular season game will be on the road against the Toledo Rockets on Friday, March 6 at Savage Arena in Toledo. After that, the Eagles will begin preparing for the MAC Tournament, which starts on Monday, March 9. EMU is locked in to play in the first round but their opponent and the venue will be determined on Saturday night.