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Wednesday's basketball roundup: WMU bounces Oakland

Jim Spadafore
Special to The Detroit News

Rochester — Western Michigan's roster is loaded with out-of-state players, but it was two locals who gave the Broncos a huge lift last night.

Junior Connar Tava (Warren De La Salle) had 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, and sophomore Kellen McCormick (Pontiac Notre Dame Prep) scored 14 off the bench to spark Western Michigan to an 82-71 victory Wednesday night over Oakland University before 2,415 at the O'rena.

Tied 65-65, the Broncos (2-0) went on an 8-0 run and outscored the Grizzlies, 17-6, in the last 5:23.

Tava keyed the rally down the stretch with clutch passes on a 3-point shot by Tucker Haymond (19 points, 8-of-11 shooting) and a layup by McCormick.

"We took the ball almost exclusively to Connar in that span down the stretch," WMU coach Steve Hawkins said.

"He was able to execute. Connar has been doing that ever since he got here. He's a tough kid mentally and physically."

McCormick, son of former University of Michigan basketball standout Tim McCormick, sank 5 of 7 shots, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

McCormick made three of his threes in a span of 2:48 midway through the second half.

"This is a shooter's gym," McCormick said. "I love the O'rena."

McCormick's long-range shooting forced Oakland center Corey Petros to come outside to guard him.

"We felt we had to get Petros away from the rim," Hawkins said. "Petros is one of the best big men we'll face this year. Kellen moved to the perimeter and hit some threes."

Tava is just 6-6 but he likes to mix it up inside. Tava had eight of his 10 rebounds in the first half.

"When you are a little bit short, you have to use your body and wedge them (defenders) out," Tava said.

Overshadowed in the loss was a career-high 27 points by Oakland junior forward Tommie McCune (Saginaw), who shot 8-of-13 from the field and made 8 of 10 free throws.

He played following a tribute to his mother, who died of cancer in June.

"I put in all out there on the court," McCune said. "I played as hard as I could."

Kahlil Felder had 14 points and Ralph Hill 10. Petros was held to five points.

Western, which has four starters returning from last season's NCAA Tournament team (23-10), held Oakland (0-3) to 43.6 shooting (24-of-55). Meanwhile, Western shot 56.9 percent from the field (29-of-51), including a blistering 64.0 percent (16-of-25) in the second half.

Oakland Coach Greg Kampe was very unhappy with his team's defense Monday in an 89-77 loss to Eastern Michigan, and he was just as disappointed last night. In both games, Oakland faded in the last six minutes.

"We're not ready to win," Kampe said. "We don't have the discipline to do what we have to do in crunch time. I can say we're young and Western has four starters from an NCAA Tournament team. But that's no excuse."

Western's next game at home at 1 p.m. Saturday against Drake. Oakland hosts Western Carolina at 7 p.m. Monday.

Other games

Top 25

(At) No. 2 Arizona 71, Cal-Irvine 54: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 19 points and Arizona used a stifling defense in a decisive second-half run. The Wildcats (3-0) trailed from late in the first half until their defense intensified in a 15-0 run midway through the second half. The Anteaters (2-1) went six minutes without a point and committed five turnovers during the outburst.

(At) Creighton 65, No. 18 Oklahoma 63: Zach Hanson caught Devin Brooks' airball along the baseline and put it in the basket for the go-ahead points in the last minute, and Creighton came back from an 18-point deficit. The Bluejays (3-0) used a 24-4 run to get back in the game after a dismal first-half shooting performance.

Chatman hit a couple of free throws to make it a four-point game with 24 seconds left, but Oklahoma still had a chance after Devin Brooks missed three free throws in the last 14 seconds. Jordan Woodard missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Austin Chatman had 17 points and Toby Hegner and Isaiah Zierden 11 each for Creighton.

Buddy Hield led the Sooners (1-1) with 21 points. TaShawn Thomas added 14 and Ryan Spangler had 11.

Big Ten

(At) No. 3 Wisconsin 84, Wisconsin-Green Bay 60: Nigel Hayes scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Hayes, who averaged less than eight points and three rebounds a game as a freshman, has reached double digits in rebounds in all three games to start the season.

Frank Kaminsky added 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Badgers (3-0).

Keifer Sykes scored 20 to lead Wisconsin-Green Bay (1-1).

(At) Rutgers 61, Fairleigh Dickinson 44: Bishop Daniels scored 18 and Rutgers (1-1) used a big first half to roll over Fairleigh Dickinson.

State women

(At) Western Michigan 74: North Dakota State 59: Jessica Jessing led Western Michigan (2-0) with 15 points, while Michelle O'Brien and Alex Morton added 10 apiece.

Brooke LeMar led North Dakota State (1-2) with 15 points.

Jim Spadafore is a freelance writer; Associated Press contributed