CLEVELAND — A lack of perimeter defense and effective transition game led the Central Michigan women’s basketball team to an early exit in the Mid-American Conference Championship Tournament, Friday.
CMU lost to Akron 85-69 in semifinal action with star guard and MAC Player of the Year Crystal Bradford sitting on the bench due to injury.
“Are we a different team without Crystal Bradford? Absolutely, ” CMU head coach Sue Guevara said. “Are we a team that deserves to go to a tournament without her? Absolutely.”
Akron scored 11 fast-break points to CMU’s two. The Zips shot 42 percent from 3-point range including, 75 percent in the second half.
CMU’s Da’Jouire Turner missed two consecutive 1-and-1 free-throw chances with less than five minutes remaining, with CMU trailing by 10 points.
“This won’t happen to (Turner) again the same way next year,” Guevara said. “We just missed some opportunities down the stretch.”
A Hanna LuBurgh 3-pointer bulked the Zips lead up to eight points with 10 minutes remaining. Luburgh finished with a game-high 25 points.
Senior forward Taylor Johnson took three charges in the game, a season-high for her in that category.
“It’s hard going out like this in your last year,” Johnson said. “But I know this team like the back of my hand any they will bounce back next year and get right back at it and do work.”
Akron started the game slowly, allowing the Chippewas to build their lead to as much as 10 points halfway through the first period. A sluggish CMU transition game allowed the Zips to take control for the first time and a late run had the game tied at 38 at halftime.
Junior pointguard Jess Green led all CMU scorers with 15. Green missed last year’s tournament with a torn ACL.
“Personally, I felt like I gave a good effort we just struggled as whole,” Green said. “I was very proud of Jewel Cotton and some of our younger players on this team that stepped up for us.”
CMU finishes the season at 20-11.