Men's basketball beats EMU on the road, move to 2-0 in the MAC
Free-throw shooting has been a point of emphasis for Central Michigan head coach Ernie Zeigler throughout the season.
Freshman point guard Austin McBroom proved he could make them when it counted, knocking down two free throws with nine seconds left, sealing a 60-56 win against Eastern Michigan Wednesday night in Ypsilanti.
"This is a really good win for our young team," Zeigler said. "To go on the road and play one of our arch-rivals in a really competitive, tough game. To be able to persevere and make the tough plays down the stretch, particularly in the second half, was really encouraging."
McBroom was forced into a pressure situation after a turnover by senior center Andre Coimbra allowed EMU to cut the score to two on a basket by freshman guard Antoine Chandler.
CMU was 13-of-21 from the free-throw line, but McBroom went 4-for-4, including the two that kept the Eagles from being able to tie or winning on the final possession.
"It was all about confidence," McBroom said. "Ever since we came back from Christmas break, that's all we've been working on, our jump shots and free throws. Just coming in and acting like it's practice and knocking them down."
Sophomore guard Trey Zeigler missed 5-of-8 free throws, but took care of business elsewhere. He hauled down a game-high 14 rebounds, also becoming one of three Chippewas to score double figures, finishing with 11 points.
The Chippewas opened the half without scoring a basket within the first four minutes and ended similarly in the final four minutes of the half until junior forward Zach Saylor cashed-in on a jump shot with three second remaining.
The inconsistent scoring forced a 25-19 deficit heading into the locker room.
Those inconsistencies were quickly fixed in the second half. McBroom and Coimbra knocked down back-to-back 3-point field goals and the game was tied at 25.
That was just the beginning of an improved offensive game. The Chippewas scored 41 second-half points.
"We talked about at halftime not to panic," Ernie said. "We thought we were panicking in the first half when we were struggling to make some shots and I thought we were passing up some shots from the outside against the zone after we got the penetration."
Sophomore guard Derek Jackson scored a game-high 15 points, making 3-of-5 baskets from behind the 3-point line.
The Eagles were led by junior forward Jamell Harris who had 12 points.
EMU shot 42.9 percent from the floor in comparison to 39.2 percent from CMU, but the Chippewas knocked down three more 3-pointers and as many more free throws than the Eagles.
CMU tries to become 3-0 in the Mid-American Conference for the first time since 1991-92 at 4:30 p.m., Saturday in DeKalb, Ill. against Northern Illinois.