Hoops: Fourth win may not come easy

By Brian Earle

Men’s basketball will look to extend its conference winning streak to four games when it hosts Western Michigan at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Convocation Center.

The Huskies (10-11, 4-5 MAC) have won three straight games against Kent State, Ball State and most recently Miami (Ohio) after trailing by 10 or more points. They are looking to get off to a faster start and avoid falling behind by double digits.

“We have to have the mindset that we are going to start the game with two or three stops and at the same time we have to play just as hard offensively,” said coach Mark Montgomery. “We have to knock down some shots early. I think we have been getting good shots, but unfortunately they haven’t been going in at the beginning of the game.”

Offensively, the Huskies have spread the ball around nicely during conference play. In their last five games they nearly have four players averaging double digits or more.

Forward Aksel Bolin has scored 12 points per game in his last four contests, Baker contributes 11.6 points per game, wing Darrell Bowie drops 10.2 points per game and center Jordan Threloff adds 9.6 points per game.

Bolin and Baker have improved their play from behind the arc as they have each hit eight 3-pointers in the Huskies’ last five games.

“We’re up to 30 percent shooting behind the arc,” Montgomery said. “Now, that gets us a little bit more comfortable and they have to come out and play us a little bit, but at the same time, we’ve been scoring some of those 3s in transition, so it helps that we’re shooting better from 3, but we don’t want to just settle for jump shots. Our main goal is to get the ball inside, drive the ball or get to the free-throw line.”

As for the Broncos (12-8, 5-3 MAC), they come into this contest with two of the top five leading scorers in the MAC: guard David Brown, who averages 18.4 points per game, and forward Shayne Whittington, who averages 14.6 points per game.

“You have to know where [Brown] is at all times. You’re not going to shut him down. We just have to make sure we are right there on the catch and we contest all of his shots,” Montgomery said. “…[Whittington’s] one of those inside, outside guys where he can score on the perimeter. He’s an athletic player.

“At the same time he can score on the interior, so Threloff, [Pete] Rakocevic, [Kevin] Gray and Bowie are going to have to step up and make sure they push him off the block and just play physical.”