Senior guard Kyle Randall carried the men’s basketball team as far as he could at Buffalo Monday in the Mid-American Conference tournament.
But, he was held in check in overtime, and Central Michigan was eliminated in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, 74-72.
“This is … the No. 1 team that we just did not match up well with,” said head coach Keno Davis. “Not just their size and strength inside, but the quantity of shooters they had on the perimeter.”
He said after the game he would rather have played Ohio or Akron, the two best teams in the MAC, than play the Bulls.
The Chippewas did have a chance with seven seconds to go in the game, down two, but freshman forward Blake Hibbitts missed an open shot from beyond the arc in the corner.
Buffalo forward Javon McCrea scored six of his team’s seven points in overtime and had 21 for the game.
Randall, who was named second team All-MAC, scored 26 of CMU’s 41 points in the second half, including the last eight.
Perhaps his biggest shot in the game came at the top of the arc to tie it at 67 with 21 seconds left in regulation, completing a comeback from being down seven with about three minutes to go.
“It’s amazing Kyle isn’t first-team in the MAC,” Davis said. “That’s frustrating for him. But I know he’s got bigger and better things on the horizon.”
Freshman guard Chris Fowler was not bad either.
The freshman All-MAC player had 13 points, nine assists and five steals.
CMU’s defense also kept the team in the game, holding Buffalo to two points in the last three minutes of the second half and 72 points for the game after allowing 91 at Buffalo in a loss in on Jan. 30.
At the start, the Chippewas went with a full court press and would transform into two-three zone. Then they fiddled with different defenses throughout the rest of the game.
“I liked our focus and intensity,” Davis said. ”I thought if we could stay close on the rebounding edge that we might have a chance in this game, and they kind of pulled away from us on the boards in the second half and yet we still had a shot to win the game.”
The Chippewas were out-rebounded 38-26.
After not tallying a single free-throw attempt in the first half for the second game in a row, they went to the line more in the latter part, going 12 of 14.
At the end of overtime, sophomore guard Austin Keel received a pass and called a timeout at half court with 2.2 seconds.
Keel was the in-bounder and tossed it to Randall for the game-winner, but he was off target, hitting high on the backboard.