Keno Davis returned to his alma mater Monday as his team dropped the 2012-13 regular-season opener against Iowa 73-61.
Central Michigan was able to keep the game close early, going into the half down 29-26.
But the Hawkeyes were able to pull away late in the second half, as they started hitting shots from behind the arc and crashing the boards.
“Coming in, we just wanted to execute and play hard,” senior guard Kyle Randall said. “In the first half, we did that really well; being down just three to end the half was a big deal for us.”
The Chippewas kept the game close early, forcing Iowa to turn the ball over 11 times and gave up only two three-pointers, but they weren’t able to capitalize on those mistakes as they turned the ball over 13 times themselves and shot 28.6 percent from the field.
The Hawkeyes then hit five of their first eight three-pointers in the second half, helping the team pull away late. They also out-rebounded CMU 17-10 in the second half, including nine offensive boards.
“Both teams shot pretty well in the second half, and I think what happened is they had one big stretch against us where we weren’t able to get rebounds,” Davis said. “We have to understand every team is going to have a run; we just have to keep those runs to a couple buckets.”
The Chippewas were led by Randall, who had 17 points, four rebounds and two assists, while freshman guard Derrick Richardson brought a spark off the bench, scoring 14 points.
“I just came out here and tried to do whatever I could to help this team win,” Randall said. “Everybody played hard … we just couldn’t pull it out.”
Davis compared Richardson to the Hawkeyes leading scorer, Southfield, Mich. native Roy Devyn Marble, who finished with 18 points, six rebounds and three assists.
“They can break you down off the dribble, and they’re improving,” Davis said. “(Richardson) came in here tonight, and he didn’t have any fear … he deserved and belonged out here.”
CMU tried to keep up with Marble and the fast-paced Iowa offense but, in doing so, turned the ball over 19 times.
“The inexperience we have and coming in so excited to be playing the first game against a Big Ten opponent at their place … they are going to pressure you and be physical,” Davis said. “It’s just a matter of getting used to the game, and I think our guys settled in.”
The loss marks the official start to the Davis era for CMU, and it came in a familiar place for the first-year head coach.
Davis graduated from the University of Iowa in 1995. He then began his career as an assistant at Southern Indiana.
Seventeen years and five positions later, his new journey began where it all started.
“I’d rather have not started (here); it’s not something I scheduled or would have scheduled, but it is what it is,” Davis said. “(Iowa) is a special place for me, because it’s where I went to school and where I grew up … Hopefully next time I come back, it’ll be to visit family and friends and not playing a basketball game.”
The Chippewas will return to McGurik Arena to host Olivet College for their regular-season home opener at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“We have to make sure we take time and realize what we came away from and what did Iowa expose,” Davis said. “Ball handling against pressure and to get low, because if you get shoved with two hands behind the back, you don’t let that happen.”