The men’s basketball team was down 51-27 after surrendering two three-pointers at the start of the second half at Youngstown State.
But, instead of letting the final score become dreadful, Central Michigan made it respectable as it cut the Penguins lead to as low as seven points in its 86-75 loss Saturday.
“(The Penguins) were starting to feel the pressure, but we just didn’t get to the next step, to have a chance late in the game,” head coach Keno Davis said. “We just missed some easy layups, some open three-point shots.”
Freshman guard Chris Fowler helped his team at the end of the game with 12 of his career-high 19 points coming in the last seven minutes of the second half.
He also delivered one of his five assists to sophomore guard Austin Keel, who had a three-point play to make it 83-75 with 1:06 left in the game.
The Chippewas started chipping away at the lead as soon as YSU tallied six quick points to start the second half, going on an 18-2 run to make it 53-45 with 14 minutes left in the game.
Randall, who has shouldered a load offensively, did not lead in points for only the second time since the beginning of January in his return to his hometown.
But, it was only because his cohorts were producing more on offense. He scored 17 points in 38 minutes of play.
Freshman forward John Simons made all eight free-throws and was four of five from the field to score in double-figures for the first time since Dec. 22 with 16 points. He also had four rebounds
“John is so close to throwing up double-doubles each and every night,” Davis said. “He is just not quite there. He doesn’t quite have the timing, quite have the physical strength to be able to do it. But, you see three or four balls go out of his hands that could have been rebounds.”
CMU lost eight-straight games coming into the game, and venturing into the non-conference, where it was 7-6, in the last season of ESPN BracketBusters, did not help matters.
“We didn’t look like ourselves for about 24, 25 minutes tonight,” Davis said. “We didn’t bring it. We didn’t have the talk, the execution, intensity that we had for the majority of the season.”
Davis was forced to call a timeout 5:35 into the first half because YSU took a 16-5 lead and had only missed one of its eight shots.
Beyond the arc was where YSU did most of its damage by making nine of 18 three-pointers for the game.
CMU is back in conference play when it travels to play Ball State, the last team it beat, at 7 p.m. Wednesday.