When two basketball teams play a triple overtime game, the smallest differences determine the outcome.
For the Central Michigan men’s basketball team, toughness and stamina made the difference in the 101-95 triple-overtime win against Ball State, Wednesday night.
“We came out there and we worked hard, the way we worked hard in practice,” said sophomore guard Chris Fowler. “We keep coming every night and it’s just a testament to the way the team plays. How together we are and we have to continue to stay that way as the season goes on.”
CMU never led in regulation and didn’t take a lead in the game until just over three minutes into the first overtime. Though the Chippewas struggled to gain a lead, head coach Keno Davis said his players never gave up.
“When you look at Chris Fowler and Braylon Rayson, they are two guys who aren’t big in size, but big in heart,” he said. “When we looked at those players, they might have gotten overlooked at other schools because of their size, but we saw their talent and the quality of the individual.”
While CMU showed mental toughness, physical toughness played a bigger role in the outcome.
Rayson suffered a dislocated finger in the first half against BGSU, but seemed uninhibited, scoring a career-high 30 points.
“It bothered me and I needed to take some pain pills, but my adrenaline was pumping and I know my team needed the win despite the pain,” Rayson said.
Fowler was dealt a few blows and seemed to spend more time on the floor than standing up. No matter how hard he was hit, the guard was able to get back on his feet, including the final defensive play in regulation.
“I’m a little brother,” he said. “I was knocked down a bunch by my big brother growing up and he still knocks me down today. I think I got a lot of my toughness from growing up with my brother.”
Player recovery will play a big part in preparing for the rest of the season. Fowler said he is confident the Chippewas will be healthy for Sunday’s game against Northern Illinois.
“We have a great training staff,” he said. “We just have to make sure we get as healthy as we can. We might have to try to get Braylon in the ice bath. We have to eat right and take care of our bodies and make sure everyone goes to see the trainer. Another good thing is that we don’t play until Sunday, so we get an extra day to recover.”