Game #9-181: Western Michigan Broncos at High Point PanthersDecember 16, 2012 3:00 pm
If you are a mid-major fan out there and have always wanted to check out a school but never had an opportunity, this might be the best time of the year to do so. With the students gone on winter break, every university is trying to fill their respective arenas and gyms the best they can. You can find discounted prices, free giveaways, or package deals at great prices anywhere around the country.
Take for example my destination on Sunday, as High Point was scheduled to face Western Michigan. When you go to buy an individual ticket at High Point, you usually have to sit in the seating on the second level behind one of the baskets. These seats are hardly ideal, since the basket can obstruct your view if you are not sitting at the right angle. The lower level seats a few hundred people and is reserved for students, band, and season-ticket holders so the chances to sit down there are minimal if you are a casual fan.
With most of the students gone, High Point had a great deal with Living Social. Normally the price of a ticket is $12 to sit upstairs, but that same $12 got you a seat in the lower level, a hot dog, a drink, and a free t-shirt. I am not one to wave my arms wildly in efforts to get a free t-shirt, but I will gladly take some free swag if it is being given away. I jumped on this deal as soon as I found out about it as I would get to see a Big South team and a directional Michigan team I have always followed back to my days of living in Michigan and knowing several WMU graduates.
I could tell a bunch of families took advantage of this deal since the section I was in had plenty of families of four or five with the same free t-shirt. I stood out as one of the few random mid-major basketball junkies in the vicinity, but was joined by Ian McCormick
after the half. Ian, an HPU alum himself, gave me a history of his days at High Point and the progression of the Millis Center and the Panther teams throughout the years. While I had read about his many experiences in his recaps over the past two years it was still good to have him there as a source when any question popped in my head about High Point
My only experience with High Point this year was when I saw them put up a very poor overall performance against William & Mary
. There did not seem to be any team cohesion as the Panthers were very erratic on offense. I have kept an eye on Western Michigan and knew they were having a pretty good year compared to years previous. Ever since former WMU stars Joe Reitz and David Kool graduated, it seems like the Broncos have failed to gain any traction in the MAC.
One familiar player from Western's roster was Brandon Pokley, the Broncos' starting shooting guard who graduated from Clarkston High School. I graduated 10 years before him, but this essentially guaranteed victory since anyone from CHS is awesome.
Western Michigan will probably not be seen as a team with a dominant frontcourt, but they were able to create match-up problems against a front line like High Point's which uses athletic forwards like Alan Chaney and John Brown. The Broncos were able to score early and easily in the paint with Darius Paul and Shayne Whittington. High Point stayed with it by using their edge in athleticism to create five early turnovers and cash them in causing a 10-10 tie.
That is when everything started to fall apart for High Point. The undisciplined team that was picked apart by William & Mary started to rear its ugly head again. On offense, the Panthers were either taking rushed shots or sloppily turning over the ball. There were no second chance opportunities as Western would limit them to one shot.
The boards were becoming a disaster on the other end for the Panthers, as they allowed the Broncos chance after chance at the rim. WMU went on a 21-0 run that was stopped when Nate Hutcheson caught Brown with an elbow and got a technical foul for it. The damage was already done though, as WMU headed into the half with a 37-16 lead.
The offense picked up for High Point in the second half, but they still could not corral a defensive rebound. The rebounding margin surged to +20 for the Broncos. With Western up 55-30 and 11 minutes left, Ian and I started discussing the mathematical formula that determines when a game is out of reach. We could tell it was close to that point, but High Point had a late surge still left in them. Their full-court press produced moderate results at first, but eventually the Bronco turnovers started coming. High Point was missing a bunch of layups and I could sense the frustration from Ian.
Western Michigan could have kept the lead in the twenties, but when they were not turning it over, they were splitting their free throws and letting the Panthers slowly cut the deficit to single digits. A Lorenzo Cugini three cut the lead to six with just under a minute to go, but the free throws the Broncos missed for the better part of the game started to fall and the Panthers ran out of time.
What looked to be a boring blowout in the first half turned into a decent game by the time the second half wound down. High Point needs to quit digging itself in to such a large hole, but according to Ian they have been doing it for years now. Despite this, the price of admission was well worth it. With the ambitious schedule I have planned for this year, I will take the best deals I can get and hopefully more are along the way this holiday season.
WESTERN MICHIGAN 70, at HIGH POINT 64
WESTERN MICHIGAN 7-3 (0-0) -- R. Penn 2-8 2-2 6; B. Pokley 2-9 0-0 6; S. Whittington 6-9 3-5 15; A. Richie 0-6 5-8 5; N. Hutcheson 4-7 9-12 19; D. Paul 4-9 2-5 10; C. Tava 4-4 0-0 8; J. Klein 1-3 0-0 2; T. Perry 2-2 0-2 5; D. Loney 0-0 0-0 0; H. Hoerdemann 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-50 19-32 70.
HIGH POINT 4-5 (0-0) -- J. Brown 7-16 6-8 20; A. Chaney 7-13 6-7 20; A. Weary 1-8 1-2 3; L. Cugini 3-5 0-2 8; D. McGaughy 1-8 1-1 3; D. Edwards 0-5 4-4 4; J. Simms 1-2 0-0 2; C. Law 2-4 0-0 4; J. Cheek 0-1 0-0 0; B. Mikulic 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-62 18-24 64.
Three-point goals: WMU 5-18 (B. Pokley 2-6; N. Hutcheson 2-5; H. Hoerdemann 0-1; A. Richie 0-4; J. Klein 0-1; T. Perry 1-1), HP 2-14 (A. Chaney 0-2; L. Cugini 2-3; D. Edwards 0-4; D. McGaughy 0-2; A. Weary 0-3); Rebounds: WMU 49 (D. Paul 10), HP 25 (A. Chaney 9); Assists: WMU 8 (B. Pokley 2), HP 10 (A. Chaney 2); Total Fouls -- WMU 24, HP 26; Fouled Out: WMU-None; HP-None.