KALAMAZOO More than 45 minutes before Michigan and Western Michigan met on Friday, long lines of spectators formed outside of University Arena.
The record-setting crowd of 5,649 was still filing in nearly eight minutes into the first half.
It took the Wolverines even longer to find their place, as the Broncos pulled a stunning 79-73 upset victory.
From the opening tap, it seemed as though the Broncos couldn”t miss a shot.
After Michigan forward Bernard Robinson hit a runner in the lane to start the game, Western Michigan (3-2) rattled off five straight 3-pointers including one off the high glass on a 15-2 run. The Broncos never trailed again.
“I don”t care if they were playing Duke or Kentucky,” Michigan center Josh Moore said. “They shoot 77 percent (10-of-13 from long range in the first half) what are you going to do?”
Nothing that the Wolverines (2-1) tried in the first half worked, and the Broncos took a 46-27 lead into the break.
“They were tough for us to handle from the opening tap,” said Michigan coach Tommy Amaker, who suffered his first defeat as Michigan”s coach in his first road game on the job. “We were hoping they”d miss instead of defending them and making them miss.”
Western Michigan senior forward Steve Reynolds proved especially difficult for the Wolverines to handle.
Reynolds poured in a game-high 28 points, including four 3-pointers. He torched Michigan for 26 in last season”s 92-78 loss to the Wolverines.
“He definitely carried us tonight,” said Western Michigan coach Robert McCullum. “To beat us, you know you have to shut him down.”
But Michigan couldn”t slow the Broncos” shooters one bit in the first half.
Freshman guard Ben Reed added 16 points and three treys of his own. As a team, the Broncos connected on a school record 12 3-point tries in the game, with 10 coming in the game”s first 20 minutes.
“We gave them way too many open looks,” said Michigan guard Gavin Groninger, who led the Wolverines with 16 points.
“When you are playing Division I level guys, they are going to knock a lot of those down.”
Western Michigan built its lead as high as 22 points in the second half, but the hot shooting could only last so long for the Broncos.
Michigan started its comeback charge behind the spirited play of freshmen Dommanic Ingerson and Chuck Bailey, who each posted 13 points off the bench.
“It was unbelievable with those guys,” senior tri-captain Chris Young said. “You could feel the energy when they stepped on the court.”
With 2:12 left, Michigan trailed 74-62, but the fire still burned inside the Wolverines.
“Had we played this game last year, we wouldn”t have made as good a comeback as we did,” Young said. “We really pulled it together there at the end.”
Avery Queen and Groninger knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to six with just under a minute left.
Then Bailey made a steal and drew a foul. After he split the free throws, Ingerson followed with a steal of his own on the next possession.
He failed to convert, but Bailey followed with a put-back to cut the lead to three with just more than a minute to play.
But the Wolverines would not get any closer.
With less than 20 seconds remaining, junior forward LaVell Blanchard, who finished with just eight points on 3-for-11 shooting, missed an open 3-point shot that could have tied the game for Michigan.
“This win was huge for our program,” said Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard. “Things couldn”t have worked out better. I always said that this team was a sleeping giant.”