Failures where the men’s basketball team has previously flourished led to a 67-51 loss to Utah Friday at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
The quick-paced offense could not produce a field goal for a stretch that lasted 12:16 in the first half.
Freshman John Simons made his first two field goals, both from beyond the three-point line to take a 6-3 lead for Central Michigan.
“It always helps to start out on a good note,” Simons said. “But … we knew the first two baskets of the game were not going to win the game for us, and we knew we were going to have to play solid for 40 minutes.”
The next 18 field goals, heavily contested by the Utes, were missed by the Chippewas.
Simons, the leading-scorer at halftime with eight points, took one shot, which was missed during the drought.
“It’s a team game,” Simons said. “I don’t like to force my shots; I like to take my shots when they’re open. It seemed like they were getting good looks, but they just weren’t falling.”
The Utes were led by guard Jarred DuBois, who had 20 points, five assist and no turnovers.
Under the basket was where the Utes really dominated, outscoring CMU 32-16 in the paint. Utah also grabbed 41 rebounds, compared to 32 by the Chippewas.
Utah’s Renan Lenz, standing 6-foot-9, made a basket about 10 minutes into the game, off an offensive rebound that extended the lead to 16-8, and epitomized how easy it was for the Utes forwards and centers.
Lenz is one of the shorter Utah big men, yet he stood taller than 6-foot-8 Zach Saylor – the tallest player for the Chippewas.
“They took away some of our penetration,” Davis said. “They’re as big of a team as you will see in the country. They are big in there and we our small; that’s usually not a good combination for us.”
Derrick Richardson finally broke the scoreless streak for CMU with 5:44 left in the first half, driving to the right side of the basket and getting the first field goal in over 12 minutes for the Chippewas. He also added a point on the play from the free throw line.
Richardson added three more points later on to decrease the lead to 29-21, the closest CMU got for the rest of the game. He led the team with 10 points.
The Chippewas made five of their last seven shots to end the half.
They made four of their first six shots of the second half, including four points from Saylor to make it 46-34.
As the Chippewas scored though, Utah also continued to add points.
Davis was optimistic after the game though, despite the six turnovers CMU accumulated in the road game.
“We need to improve in our execution,” he said. “But, they’re playing hard, and it’s tough to be upset with them very long when you get a group that’s working as hard as our guys.”
Utah is 3-1 after its win. The Utes were defeated 74-71 by Sacramento State on Nov. 16.
The Chippewas will play Idaho State on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in their last game in Salt Lake City.