Women’s basketball will go for its second 3-0 start to Mid-American Conference play in just six years today when Western Michigan comes to McGuirk Arena.
Coming into this game, CMU sits atop the MAC West, while WMU is in last place and has a 1-7 record away from Kalamazoo. In fact, in the past five seasons, the Chippewas are 7-2 against the Broncos and have averaged 82 points per game in their last six matchups.
Last season, CMU defeated WMU twice, including a 93-85 victory at McGuirk Arena and a 66-53 win at University Arena.
The Broncos are averaging 71.2 percent from the line, which is third-best in the conference. Look for them to attack the basket and create contact in order to get to the line.
“We are looking at the scouting report and trying to take away what their strength is and maybe try to exploit some of their weaknesses individually,” said head coach Sue Guevara. “It lends in part to the versatility of our lineup, and the different lineups sometimes dictate what defense we’re in. We’ve been able to get the stop, score, stop that we need.”
As much talk as there has been about the offense this season, it’s the defense that’s been the difference in the first two conference games, allowing just an average of 58.5 points per game.
Guevara said she has been really happy with the way the team has played as of late, especially on defense.
“Our kids have really bought into the system,” Guevara said. “Our chemistry; on the defensive side of the ball, has gotten better, our communication is better. I like the fact that we’re mixing up our defenses and they’ve been effective. I’ve liked the fact that we have been able to contain our poise and composure.”
The Chippewas started off their conference schedule with wins against preseason MAC favorite Toledo, 73-66, at Savage Area, where the Rockets had only lost two games in the past four seasons, and a win at home against defending conference champions Eastern Michigan, 77-51.
Sophomore guard Crystal Bradford was strong in the opening week of conference play, having averaged 20 points per game, along with 11 rebounds and six assists.
She was named the MAC West Player of the Week for the second consecutive week and fourth time this season. She tied a career-high 27 points against Toledo and nearly had a triple-double versus the Eagles with 13 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.
CMU averaged 75 points per game in the first two conference games. The defense has been just as good, having forced 30 turnovers, getting 23 steals and holds a 79-61 rebounding advantage.
This has helped create more scoring opportunities and fast break points for the Chippewas. The aggressive style of defense has been the key to limiting open looks for its opponents while allowing them to run their style of offense.
Three-point shooting has continued to make a huge impact. CMU is shooting nearly 44 percent from beyond the arc in its first two conference games.
“Our players are spending time in the gym, shooting before we come out for practice, and it’s good to see that paying off,” Guevara said. “We will spend 30 to 45 minutes during practice shooting the ball, but that extra always helps.”