Despite a sluggish start, the women’s basketball team defeated Prairie View A&M Wednesday afternoon, 90-66.
The Chippewas (4-5) opened with 14 turnovers in the first half, well ahead of Central Michigan’s average of 17 turnovers a game. Despite the first half struggles, sophomore Da’Jourie Turner led CMU with 10 second-half points as the team settled in.
“I know it wasn’t pretty, at least in the first half,” said CMU coach Sue Guevara. “Give Prairie View all the credit in the world because they wanted that game a whole heck of a lot more than we did in the first half. I thought we played very uninspired.”
Wednesday was an odd day for the Chippewas to show a lack of inspiration. McGuirk Arena was filled with screaming grade school children as part of the annual Hoops for Hunger program. Guevara said she thought CMU might have shown too much energy after the opening tip.
“Sometimes, I think you can get too high,” she said. “You start turning the ball over trying to make things happen that aren’t quite there.”
The bench was responsible for most of the Chippewas turnovers, committing eight in 20 minutes of combined playing time. CMU also struggled on the glass and was able to muster only six offensive rebounds in the first half.
Senior guard Niki DiGuilio continued her strong season, finishing 3-of-4 from behind the arch and hitting all six free throws she attempted. She finished with a team-high 18 points.
“Not everyone was on the same page,” DiGuilio said. “I’m a leader on the floor and it took me putting my foot down to get everyone together to play as a unit. When we play as a unit, obviously we are very tough to beat. I know my team counts on me for a lot. Just staying confident as a shooter is one of the biggest things.”
With DiGuilio spearheading the offensive effort, CMU owned a 40-36 lead heading into the locker room.
“At halftime, I chewed our bench (out) because I thought we got nothing from our bench,” Guevara said. “I told them (Prairie View) wants it a whole hell of a lot more than we do. Quite frankly, I went after my bench. I said I can’t play the starters for 20 minutes. I don’t want to play them for 20 minutes; they can’t play for 20 minutes.”
The Chippewas responded well to their coach’s criticism. Juniors Crystal Bradford and Jessica Green led CMU on a dominant 39-9 run to start the second half. Turner got to the free-throw line early and often where she hit 10-of-13 attempts in the second half. Bradford finished with 16 points and Green finished with 11.
“I thought Da’Jourie responded in the second half with her decision-making of when to go to the basket,” Guevara said. “She was really tough to defend when she penetrates, but sometimes her shot selection isn’t great. She did a great job today of changing her speed, keeping her eye on the basket and they fouled her.”
CMU committed just five second-half turnovers en route to their second home victory of the season.
“I think the light bulb came on and we realized how good we are and how we should perform,” DiGuilio said. “At that point, it’s not about us, it’s about how we perform as a unit.”