In the first meeting between Ohio and Western Michigan on Feb. 5, Western Michigan guard David Brown and forward Connar Tava combined to score 38 points in a 90-74 victory.
On Wednesday night, it didn’t matter if Brown or Tava were guarded or not, the pair was able to make key shots for Western Michigan.
Brown and Tava combined to score 41 points, and the Western Michigan Broncos defeated the Ohio Bobcats, 73-63, at the Convo.
“It’s always a combination of one team playing bad and one team playing good,” Ohio coach Jim Christian said. “They (Western Michigan) beat us to every loose ball and attacked the glass at will.”
With Ohio closing the first half on a 7-0 run to make the score 31-25 in favor of the Broncos, it carried its momentum into the second half.
Jon Smith, who did not start the game, converted a slam dunk and free throw to cut Western Michigan’s lead to five, and his layup after the 3-point play made the score 35-32 with 16:28 left in the game.
“We had a couple of chances to come back,” Christian said. “We missed easy opportunities. You could see the facial expressions on the team and know that we didn’t have enough energy to win tonight.”
Even though Ohio (18-8, 8-5 MAC) made it a one-possession game, Western Michigan (17-8, 10-3 MAC) started to gain some separation.
Tava made a layup to give the Broncos a five-point lead, and Brown buried an uncontested 3-pointer to give Western Michigan a 45-32 lead with 13:29 left in the game.
Maurice Ndour scored on a slam dunk to cut Western Michigan’s lead to 50-40, but Brown hit his fourth 3-pointer of the night to extend Western Michigan’s lead to 55-40 with 8:09 remaining, which caused Christian to call a timeout.
“The coach lets him (Brown) do what he wants,” senior forward TJ Hall said. “He is able to take control of the game. He can play.”
After Nick Kellogg scored seven quick points to make the score 58-47 with 5:22 left, Tava converted on two free throws and two layups to make the score 64-51 with 3:34 left to go.
“They are a solid team,” Hall said. “They keep the same pace and run their offense. They do what they want to do well.”
Brown made two free throws and converted on a layup to give Western Michigan a 68-53 lead with 1:50 to go, and Tava’s free throw with 10 seconds remaining represented the last scoring of the game.
This was Western Michigan’s first victory at the Convo since Jan. 22, 2000. The win also improves the Broncos’ conference road record to 4-2.
Ohio has now alternated wins and losses in its last six games. Ohio’s home record now stands at 11-4.
The Bobcats will travel to Akron to take on the Zips on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Zips have won the last four meetings in the series, and Christian is hoping for a response from his team.
“We have to regroup and get better,” he said. “For whatever reason, we didn’t have it tonight.”