Not since the 1987-88 season has women’s basketball got off to a 5-0 start to Mid-American Conference play, but it could do just that Wednesday at Ohio.
CMU is currently at the top of the MAC West and is looking for a fifth-straight win against the Bobcats. Ohio comes into the game with an 0-4 record to begin conference play and is 5-11 overall this year.
Head coach Sue Guevara credits her team’s versatility and depth, as well as team chemistry, for the Chippewas start of conference play.
“I’ve been happy with the ability to be able to rotate players in and out,” Guevara said. “It’s really all about chemistry. That’s probably one of the strongest things for us right now. It’s about the acceptance of roles and having the attitude of the team and not me.”
Another reason for the strong start is the play of sophomore guard Crystal Bradford, who was recently named the MAC West Player of the Week for the third-straight week and the fifth time this season, showing why she is the early frontrunner for MAC Player of the Year. She has led CMU in both scoring and rebounding in three of the last five games.
During the first four conference games, Bradford has been unstoppable. She is averaging 20 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, both of which lead the MAC. She also ranks second in assists (5.8), second in blocks (1.8) and is tied for fourth in steals (3.0).
While the Chippewas continue to display an offense capable of scoring at will, which is currently ranked second in the MAC with an average of 76.2 points per game while outscoring their opponents by 18.5 points per game, it’s the defense that has stepped up in these last four games, allowing just 57.8 points per game.
Senior forward Jessica Schroll and junior guard Jessica Green have both been averaging in double-figures, scoring, along with Bradford, in the last four games with 11 and 10.3 points per game, respectively.
Guevara said although the defense has progressed and improved over these last four games, there are still some things being worked on in preparation for Wednesday’s matchup in Athens, Ohio.
“We’ve been working on our man-to-man defense,” Guevara said. “I think the players understand what they have to do. We have really worked on our positioning on the floor and challenging the bench to be ready for their opportunity.”
Ohio comes into this game with the worst defense and offense statistically in the MAC, giving up nearly 75 points per game while scoring an average of 46.8 points per game.
Both rebounding and three-point shooting have continued to play a large role in CMU’s success during conference play. It has made 37 three-pointers in the last four games and has out-rebounded the opponents by an average of 5.8 rebounds per game, good enough for first and second in the MAC.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Convocation Center in Athens.