Sophomore guard Crystal Bradford had a career-high 31 points in the women’s basketball team’s 92-69 win against Akron on Saturday in McGuirk Arena.
Bradford’s McGuirk Arena record-setting performance, tied with men’s senior guard Kyle Randall, aided the Chippewas to a 6-0 start to Mid-American Conference play. It’s the third time in program history they have started 6-0 and the first time since 1987-88.
“I get to be happy today; I thought we put two halves together,” said head coach Sue Guevara. ”Akron is a good basketball team. I was pleased with how we defended them. Our kids did a good job of following the game plan and understanding personnel. We wanted to make it difficult for their best players to score and shoot contested shots.”
The Zips came into Saturday’s game with the second-best offense in the MAC. But none of that mattered with three other players scoring in double-figures, including senior forward Jessica Schroll, who had a career-high 16 points, junior guard Jessica Green; who recorded her third straight double-digit scoring effort with 15, and senior guard Jalisa Olive, who came off the bench with 10 points.
Bradford said the team placed an importance on defensive positioning coming into the game and, along with communication, aided to CMU’s win.
“They hit some big shots, they all hit some pretty big shots, but getting out and coming with our hands out was important,” Bradford said. “So, I think that’s the best thing that kept their percentage down. There was an emphasis on when we switched to step out. This time we wanted to get out so they wouldn’t shoot early. It was important to win both halves. I think we’re all in sync now … we mesh together.”
CMU got out to a fast start, thanks to an aggressive defense and an offense that continued to attack the basket. The biggest lead for the Chippewas in the first half came at the 2:07 mark when they increased their lead to 18 after Bradford hit her second free-throw of the half.
Turnovers were key coming in against a team as high scoring as the Zips. CMU only had two turnovers in the first while forcing Akron into 12, leading to 12 points. This helped the Chippewas shoot 51.3 percent in the first and maintain an 18-point halftime lead.
The second half was much of the same as the Zips were never able to mount a significant comeback, although they did get to within 14 points at the 17:36 mark in the second. CMU answered with a 10-2 run, increasing its lead to 65-43.
Guevara said that a point of emphasis in practice has been on finishing shots in the paint.
“I don’t think we missed a single layup today,” Guevara said. “That’s been an emphasis in practice and also the quick jumper in the paint.”
Senior guard Brandie Baker moved up to No. 13 in program history with 1,028 career points after hitting both of her free throws at the 15:55 mark in the second half.
The Chippewas led by as much as 26 points in the game and remained stout defensively with 13 steals and eight blocks in the game.
The high-powered CMU offense ended finished at 53.6 percent from the field and was 9 for 24 from beyond the arc.
The Chippewas are back in action at 7 p.m. Thursday in McGuirk Arena against Kent State.