Western Michigan 67, Northern Illinois 62
CLEVELAND (AP)—Freshman David Kool lived up to his name, calmly sinking four free throws in the final 10 seconds as Western Michigan gutted out a 67-62 win over Northern Illinois in the final opening round game of the Mid-American Conference tournament on Wednesday night.
Kool, voted the MAC’s top first-year player, finished with 14 points— making 9-of-10 free throws in the second half.
Joe Reitz added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Broncos (16-15), who shot just 35 percent from the floor, made 2-of-11 3-pointers and missed key free throws down the stretch. But they made just enough big plays to move on.
Western Michigan will play Kent State in Thursday’s quarterfinals. In their only meeting during the regular season, the Broncos beat the Golden Flashes by 22 points.
Cody Yelder led Northern Illinois (7-23) with 20 points and Mike McKinney added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
It was the second meeting in six days between the schools, and this one also went to Western Michigan, which beat Northern Illinois 68-54 on March 1.
Two free throws by Reitz put the Broncos ahead 62-54 with 45 seconds left but the Huskies cut it to 63-60 on Yelder’s basket. Kool was fouled and dropped two free throws with 10.5 seconds left.
Yelder drove the length of the floor for a layup to make it 65-62 with 4.9 seconds remaining, and Northern Illinois was forced to foul. The Broncos hurried an inbound pass to Kool, who made 82-of-90 free throws during the regular season, and the 6-foot-3 guard put it away at the line.
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