Basketball / Sports

Chippewas use league-best 3-point shooting to beat Toledo in conference opener

Junior guard Crystal Bradford makes a drive to the net past Notre Dame defenders earlier this season. Bradford scored 22 second-half points in CMU's 84-71 win over Toledo, Saturday. (Courtesy photo | Marcus Snowden)

Junior guard Crystal Bradford makes a drive to the net past Notre Dame defenders earlier this season. Bradford scored 22 second-half points in CMU’s 84-71 win against Toledo. (Courtesy photo | Marcus Snowden)

Women’s basketball has started its conference play on the right foot defeating Toledo 84-71 Saturday at McGuirk Arena.

Coming into the game as the best 3-point shooting team in the Mid-American Conference, Central Michigan made 14-of-32 shots for a total of 42 points from beyond the arc. CMU hit nine of those 14 shots in the second half against the Rockets (5-7, 0-1 in MAC).

Sharpshooting senior Niki DiGuilio scored 12 points, hitting four 3-point shots in the win. With her first 3-point shot against Toledo, DiGuilio became CMU women’s basketball’s all-time leading 3-point shooter.

“We pulled away with the three ball,” said  junior guard Crystal Bradford. “It’s just good for my team to hit shots. The three ball is definitely a big factor, but we have to remember to follow up our shots. We don’t want to get beside ourselves with the three ball because then we will forget to attack.”

Bradford led all CMU scorers with 24 points and went 3-of-8 from 3-point land.  Another junior guard, Kerby Tamm, was a perfect 4-for-4 when shooting the 3-point shot.

DiGuilio’s record-holding 3-point shooting shined brightest of all.

“All she cared about was the win,” said CMU head coach Sue Guevara. “(The record) says hard work does pay off and you have to have the confidence to shoot that ball.“

Though CMU won, the first half did not go smoothly for the Chippewas.

The team shot 15-of-40 from the floor with seven turnovers and were unable to take advantage of several scoring chances early in the game. CMU pulled away from Toledo due mainly to a major second-half turnaround by Bradford, who scored 22 of her 24 points in the last half.

Bradford struggled in the first, shooting 1-for-10 with two points and two turnovers in 11 minutes of playing time.

“Our efficiency (in the first half), had to be better,” Guevara said.

CMU started the second half on a  28-6 run in roughly seven minutes of play and controlled the tempo of the game until the end.

“If you hit one (3-point shot), everyone feeds off it and you usually hit another. It keeps the run going; It’s big,” Tamm said.

CMU’s next action comes Thursday at Akron, who is undefeated at home and beat Ball State on Saturday, 87-78.

“(Toledo was) the first MAC win and it’s the first one here in McGuirk. Protecting our home court is one of our goals,” Guevara said. ” No one comes in here and walks away with a win. It is the first test and there are 17 more (MAC games) to be played. It’s just great the first one was a win.”

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