January 2020

Chippewas Take Command Late To Claim Road Win

January 15, 2020 | Written By: Keno Davis

TOLEDO, Ohio -- The monkey is off the back.


Devontae Lane and Dallas Morgan combined to score 32 second-half points on Tuesday as Central Michigan topped Toledo, 74-67, in a Mid-American Conference men's basketball game at the Rockets' Savage Arena.
The win lifted CMU (10-7) to 3-1 in the MAC. It snapped a five-game losing streak against the Rockets and it was the Chippewas' first win in Toledo since Feb. 27, 2016.
It was also CMU's first road victory of the season.
"Getting that first road victory is important," CMU coach Keno Davis said. "We've been there, we know we're good enough to win the road but sometimes it's a mental block that you have to able to break through just to show that you can do it."
How It Happened
Down 59-53 with under eight minutes to play, the Chippewas went on a 17-2 run beginning with a Lane layup with 7:30 to play and ending with a Lane free throw with 1:13 remaining that left the Chippewas up, 70-61.
CMU held Toledo scoreless for a near five-minute stretch during its take-control spurt.
"I think our depth and the pace we played with gave us an advantage," Davis said. "We felt that if the game was close coming to the last four or five minutes that we had a great chance because of what we do and how we do it.
"For being on the road, our composure and effort was probably better than it's been all year and that's exciting moving forward."
Individual Stats
Morgan scored 20 of his 22 points and Lane had 12 of his 16 in the second half. They accounted for nearly all of the after-halftime Chippewa points as CMU outscored the Rockets, 36-26, over the final 20 minutes.
David DiLeo added 16 points – all in the first half -- for the Chippewas.
Rob Montgomery hauled down a career-high 11 rebounds as the Chippewas finished with a 41-35 edge on the boards.
Key Stat
The Chippewas limited Toledo to just two 3-pointers on nine attempts over the final 20 minutes. The Rockets made nine of their 17 3-point tries in the first half en route to a 41-38 lead at the break.
"Great effort on the defensive end in the second half," Davis said. "Really proud of our guys. And the execution – it wasn't anything X and O wise that you would exactly draw up; (it was) trying to get mismatches, trying to get shots, trying to be able to penetrate and not turn the ball over."
Big Win
It was an important victory on several fronts for the Chippewas, not the least of which is that it keeps them tied for first place with Ball State in the MAC West.
"If you had told me (we'd be) 3-1, I think just about anybody in the conference would take that," Davis said. "Getting a win on the road and against such a quality opponent, I think we have to really celebrate and acknowledge every win that you get this year during this conference because there is nobody that you would look ahead and say, 'Oh that's a win. You don't have to play well in that game, you're going to win that game.'
"It's so equal this year that you should celebrate every win and acknowledge that you did a lot and then try to get better as you go forward."
CMU will return to McGuirk Arena on Saturday (2 p.m.) to play Buffalo, which is 11-6, 2-2, after a 76-73 win over Ohio on Tuesday. The Bulls have won four of the last five MAC Tournament championships.

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CMU Men Win A Thriller

January 8, 2020 | Written By: Keno Davis
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – A buzzer-beating victory.
Stay in the game, keep working, and good things are bound to happen.
Kevin McKay scored the go-ahead basket with 0.2 seconds to play as Central Michigan came back from a 12-point second-half deficit to claim a thrilling 68-67 victory over Northern Illinois on Tuesday in a Mid-American Conference men's basketball game at McGuirk Arena.
The Chippewas, who improved to 9-6, 2-0 MAC, won despite trailing for almost the entire game and improved to 9-0 at home. NIU is 8-7, 1-1.
Game-winning play
With the Chippewas trailing, 67-66, CMU's David DiLeo rebounded a missed free throw by NIU with 6 seconds remaining. DiLeo got the ball to guard Devontae Lane, who raced up court and found McKay. McKay scored going to the basket, putting CMU in front for the first time since late in the first half.
"Devontae came down the floor, they double teamed him, he saw me, I was open, and that was pretty much about it," said McKay, who hit nine of his 12 field goal attempts for a game-high 21 points. "This team, we have a lot of people who are going to show up on any given night, tonight happened to be my night.
"When you're feeling it, you just go with it. Coach (Keno Davis) did a good job when he saw I was feeling it tonight with getting the ball in my hands. I was able to finish some plays, which helped me on defense and rebounding. Next few games, whoever's hot, that's who we're going to give the ball to."
How It Happened
The Chippewas trailed by 12 points, 53-41, with under 13 minutes to play. But they continued to dig, getting it to a two-possession game on several occasions over the final 12 minutes.
NIU led, 67-63, after Trendon Hankerson hit two free throws with 15 seconds remaining. Lane answered with a three-point play with 9 seconds left, drawing CMU to 67-66.
The Chippewas then fouled NIU's Mateen Zaire, who had not attempted a free throw all season. He missed, DiLeo rebounded, and the remaining five seconds became a memorable highlight reel for CMU.
"As it was a live situation out there, we've talked about, 'This is what we're going to do at the end of a game,'" Davis said. "Although we've might not have executed the right play, the spacing was really good, and that's what's so important in basketball, especially on a fast break."
"While our spacing might not have been good for a majority of the game, it was really good down the stretch, and I think that last play resembles it. We had a shooter open, we had McKay open, we had options. Devontae gets better every day, being able to pass and distribute the ball."
Team Stats
The Chippewas overcame a poor shooting night as they finished just five for 22 (22.7 percent) from 3-point range. The Huskies entered the game holding opponents to 29.1 percent from long range, second best in the MAC.
The Chippewas limited NIU to just three triples on 13 attempts.
NIU held a 48-30 advantage on points in the paint, but the Chippewas outrebounded the Huskies, 35-32. McKay led CMU with eight rebounds.
Individual Stats
DiLeo scored 12 points, while Lane added 11 and led CMU with five assists.
Defensive Strategy
The Chippewas needed a lot to go their way when they faced a 67-63 deficit with 15 seconds to go. They emphasized keeping Hankerson and Eugene German, NIU's leading scorer, off the free throw line. Hankerson entered the game shooting 83.3 percent from the line, while German is the MAC's leading scorer, averaging 20.7 points per game. He scored 20.
"We knew that German is a heck of a player," DiLeo said. "We knew he was a pretty good shooter so if we could stay away from fouling those two players … And with the other three players, especially at that point, whoever gets the ball, we're just going to have to foul them."
Said Davis: "We told the guys to be really aggressive with them and try to get the steal. But, if you foul them, it's fine, let's make sure their best free throw shooter doesn't get the ball. Late in the game, their best free throw shooters are going to be on the court. I thought we did a pretty good job on the fly with some of our pressure we put in late. It was a little bit different from the pressure we normally use."
CMU will head to Kent State on Saturday, Jan. 11 (3:30 p.m.). The Golden Flashes are 12-3, 2-0, after an 84-77 win over Toledo on Tuesday.
Kent State is the highest-ranked MAC team (13th) in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25.
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Morgan Heats Up; CMU Men Win MAC Opener

January 5, 2020 | Written By: Keno Davis


MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Dallas Morgan scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half and Rob Montgomeryposted his second career double-double on Saturday as the Central Michigan men's basketball team opened Mid-American Conference play with a 93-82 victory over Miami (Ohio) at McGuirk Arena.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak as the Chippewas improved to 8-6, 8-0 at home.
"I was really pleased that we were able to come away with a win," said CMU coach Keno Davis, whose team last played at home on Dec. 6, when it posted an 84-75 nonleague victory over UT Martin. "Coming off of not playing here in what seems like forever, it's nice to be able to get the win, start off conference play (1-0), and we'll get ready for Tuesday."
The Chippewas, who have won 71 of their last 90 games at McGuirk, play host to Northern Illinois in a MAC game on Tuesday, Jan. 7. The Huskies are 8-6 and upended two-time defending MAC Tournament champion Buffalo, 73-72, on Saturday.
How It Happened
Morgan hit all five of his second-half 3-point attempts in finishing five for seven from long range for the game. He was nine for 14 from the floor overall.
Morgan hit back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the second half as the Chippewas finally put some space between themselves and the pesky RedHawks. Morgan's triple with 11:05 to play gave CMU a 66-55 lead, and another Morgan 3-pointer with 5:00 left put the Chippewas up 15, 80-65, their largest lead of the second half.
Miami never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
"First half, I came out and missed a few shots," Morgan said. "But then my teammates were telling me to stay confident and keep shooting the ball. Second half is a new half, and I just continued to do what I know how to do, which is to shoot the ball."
Team Stats 
The Chippewas needed all 15 of the 3-pointers they got because Miami was just as hot from long range. The RedHawks finished 13 of 25 (52 percent) from beyond the arc, while CMU was 15 of 29 (51.7 percent).
CMU's Devontae LaneTravon Broadway Jr. and David DiLeo each hit three 3-pointers. The trio combined with Morgan to make 14 of 23 (60.8 percent) from long range. DiLeo had 16 points, while Lane had 14, Kevin McKayadded 13.
Montgomery, a 6-foot-7 senior, scored 11 points and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds.
Miami's big men "were physical," Montgomery said. "They played hard. I just went there and played as hard as I could. I tried to dominate the paint. Our assistant coach, coach Chris Tifft, has been on me about owning the paint, wanting me to be down there, and be that guy that's in control down there."
Off to a Good Start
One win, Davis cautioned, does not a season make. Still, it's better to be 1-0 in league play than the alternative.
"It wouldn't have been the end if we started 0-1," Davis said. "There's a lot of games (left). But you know that every time you get a win, you should enjoy it and realize you've done something. It's nice coming off a layoff, as well as coming off a week of practice without a game, to able to start (conference) play with a victory, and to be able to hold serve on our home court."

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