Detroit — The sportcoat doesn’t typically last long for Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins, who had ditched it maybe five minutes into Saturday’s game.
He emerged wearing the tan blazer in the second half and never took it off. What gives?
“I got a broken zipper,” Hawkins said, shaking his head. “It was like, damn it, I gotta keep this thing on. I was sweating more than Kim Kardashian in a spelling bee.”
It was almost as good as Thomas Wilder’s, Western’s star senior who had 30 points and six assists as the Broncos held off Detroit Mercy, 87-79, at Calihan Hall.
Western, out of sync in the first half, quickly erased a five-point halftime deficit and notched up its defense, forcing Detroit Mercy into 19 turnovers for the game.
That was the clear difference in an intriguing early season matchup. Western had nine turnovers and 19 assists; Detroit Mercy had eight assists and 19 turnovers.
“There’s no defense for turnovers,” said Detroit Mercy coach Bacari Alexander, who fell to 0-2 in his return to the bench following a mysterious, seven-game suspension.
This was the first meeting between the teams since 2012, in a series that dates to 1916.
The series was revived because of Alexander and Hawkins’ relationship; Alexander was on Hawkins’ staff at Western from 2008-10. And the revival was a fun game, especially as it turned into the Corey Allen-Thomas Wilder show. Allen, Detroit Mercy’s star sophomore, hit his first three 3-point attempts and finished with 32 points, shooting 12-for-21. Wilder scored 30 and shot 9-for-17.
Each made huge shots, particularly in the final 10 minutes.
“It was the kind of game I thought it was gonna be,” said Hawkins, who put his best defender, Bryce Moore, on Allen late. Allen still hit some big shots.
Western (6-4) split with the two state Horizon League teams, falling to Oakland, 78-73, last week.
Detroit Mercy (4-6) outrebounded Western, 39-34, as the Broncos remain without 7-footer Seth Dugan (stress fracture). Jaleel Hogan had 10 rebounds to go with 16 points.
The day wasn’t a total loss for Detroit Mercy, which handed out the inaugural Reggie Hall Spirit Award at halftime, the honor — named after the Titans’ super fan, who died in 2015 at age 58 following an automobile accident — going to Hall’s former baseball coach, 91-year-old Bob Miller.
Hall’s seat in the corner of Calihan Hall forever will be a shrine, labeled “Reggie’s Corner.” But as Detroit Mercy folks will tell you, it’s odd that they’ve roped off one seat, as Hall was usually standing and yelling. What would he have said to Alexander after Saturday’s game?
“He would’ve said, ‘Hey Coach, keep your head up, keep whipping them into shape, and make those turnovers hurt,’ ” said Alexander, donning a red “TR” pin, for Titan Reggie.
More state men
(At) Oakland 82, Chicago State 50: Jalen Hayes scored 30 on 12-for-14 shooting and added 10 rebounds, and Stan Scott added 15 points as the Golden Grizzlies (6-4) rolled to victory at the O’Rena.
Fred Sims Jr. had 16 points and Glen Burns 10 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago State (2-10).
Like at Detroit Mercy on Saturday, the basketball game practically was secondary, as Oakland fans and the athletic department paid tribute to beloved, longtime trainer Tom Ford, who revealed in May he has Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
During an on-court ceremony, Oakland coach Greg Kampe unveiled a “TFord” plaque on the court, under Ford’s traditional seat for the decades he spent down the bench from Kampe.
Kampe also presented Ford with a black bench chair, like the one he occupied for so many years, with the seat emblazoned with “TFord” in gold lettering.
(At) Eastern Michigan 80, Central State (Ohio) 65: James Thompson IV had 19 points and a season-high 18 rebounds to help lead Eastern Michigan to an 80-65 win over Division II Central State (Ohio). Eastern Michigan (7-2) which garnered its sixth straight home win, jumped out to an early lead and never trailed, taking a 45-27 advantage into the half.
The Marauders had a 6-0 run to close to 62-57 midway in the second period. Paul Jackson answered with two free throws and Elijah Minnie slammed home a dunk as Eastern Michigan pulled away in the final minutes.
Thompson, who had his eighth double-double of the year, made 9 of 10 field-goal attempts and grabbed seven offensive rebounds. Minnie also totaled 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting with three assists, four steals and two blocks. Paul Jackson added 14 points and Tim Bond chipped in 13 for the Eagles.
(At) Central Michigan 73, Tennessee Tech 69: Cecil Williams drove for a layup in the final seconds to secure Central Michigan’s win. Tennessee Tech cut the margin to 70-69 when Mason Ramsey hit a hook shot with 27 seconds left. Central Michigan beat the ensuing full-court press as Kevin McKay found Williams cutting to the basket for the winning bucket. He was fouled on the play and converted the free throw for the final score.
Williams led the Chippewas (8-1) with 17 points, two blocks and five steals. Shawn Roundtree also had 17 points, knocking down 3 of 5 from distance. David DiLeo added 14 and McKay chipped in 10 for Central Michigan, which has won seven straight.
Curtis Phillips had 14 points for Tennessee Tech (7-4) which dropped its third straight. Ramsey added 13 points with nine rebounds and Aleksa Jugovic and Kajon Mack had 12 points each.
(At) Wayne State 58, Tiffin 56: Wayne State (4-4, 3-1 GLIAC) held on when Ronald Booth grabbed a rebound of a missed 3-pointer by Austin Adams at the buzzer. Booth scored 17, Chuck key 13 and George Spender 12 for Wayne State. Adams scored 15 for Tiffin (2-7, 0-4).
State men’s scores
Adrian 86, Wisconsin Lutheran 73
Ashland 86, Davenport 65
Cornerstone 74, Madonna 67
Ferris State 81, Saginaw Valley 45
Kalamazoo 66, Case Western 64
Lake Superior State 92, Northwood 76
Michigan Tech 75, Purdue Northwest 66
Northern Michigan 71, Grand Valley State 68
Siena Heights 78, Lawrence Tech 58
Spring Arbor 71, Albion 56
Wisconsin-Oshkosh 79, Calvin 74
Wisconsin-Stevens Point 91, Hope 77
Associated Press and News staff contributed.