With six seconds left in the game, Central Michigan (6-3) went to its leader for the game-winning bucket against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (2-7).
Down by one point after a SIUE three-pointer, sophomore guard Chris Fowler hit a two-point shot to seal the road victory for CMU 65-64. Fowler finished with 23 points and five rebounds.
Head coach Keno Davis wanted the ball in Fowler’s hands with the clock running down.
“I was pretty confident,” Davis said. “If you’re going to put the ball in anyone’s hands, I think you want it to be Chris Fowler taking it to the basket. You want your other guys like Blake Hibbitts and John Simons on the outside to knock down the shot. I have confidence in those guys to knock down that shot as well.”
Simons scored eight points while grabbing five rebounds.
CMU only shot ten free throws in the game, but that experience will help down the road, Davis said.
“I think we talked all year with the experience that we are getting,” Davis said. “We had a game where we only shot 10 free throws and we got those late. We had no free throws in the first half; we have to be able to respond to those situations.”
Down the stretch, as the game went back and forth, CMU was confident and had its players in the right position on both ends of the ball.
“We have confident players and they understand how to get in the right position,” Davis said. “Now we have to be more consistent and do that throughout the game to be a really good team.”
With five minutes left, Davis huddled his team together and told them this is where you want to be on the road. His team responded and executed to steal a game on the road.
“We talked about it in the huddle,” Davis said. “This is where you want to be on the road. You don’t go on the road and win by 15 or 20 points very often. We thought we were right where we needed to be. It was a good job on our defensive end to execute late.”