The Central Michigan women’s basketball team clinched a double-bye Sunday for the Mid-American Conference tournament next week with a 80-77 win at Toledo.
CMU trailed the Rockets by nine points near the final media timeout, but a late Chippewas run capped the victory. Junior Crystal Bradford and senior Taylor Johnson each scored 23 points in the victory. Senior Niki DiGuilio hit four free-throws in the final minute of play to keep the Rockets at bay.
“I talked a lot with our team at halftime about the battle of the boards,” said CMU head coach Sue Guevara. “Toledo went after us on the offensive glass but I thought we looked to attack the glass better in the second half.”
Another slow start, followed by a strong and suspenseful climb in the second half. This has been status quot for the Chippewas (19-9, 15-1) this season.
“I give CB (Bradford) a lot of credit,” Guevara said. “She hit two big free throws for us after missing two earlier in the game. DiGuilio and Taylor (Johnson) had monster games today and that’s what our bench does for us.”
The Rockets shot the ball well and limited Bradford to five points in the first half. Both teams shot 40 percent from the floor in the first.
Johnson has prided herself all season on giving CMU the necessary spark to take control of the game down the stretch.
“There comes a time in the game where you have to get everybody up and everybody excited and that’s my job,” Johnson said. “If it wasn’t for my teammates having my back with all the rebounds, none of that would’ve happened.”
The win over Toledo is the team’s 15th in conference play and is the third time CMU has reached this number in school history.
The Chippewas have two games remaining on their schedule against in-state rivals Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan this week.