Men's basketball drops conference-opener to Miami after poor start, finish

Katy Kildee | Staff Photographer Sophomore forward Blake Hibbitts shoots a free throw during the second half of the Chippewas' conference-opener 77-70 loss to Miami of Ohio on Wednesday in McGuirk Arena.

Poor shooting and a lack of perimeter defense led to the men's basketball team losing its first Mid-American Conference game of the season Wednesday night in McGuirk Arena.

The Chippewas dropped the 77-70 game to Miami of Ohio, slipping to 7-6 on the season.

“We should have won the game,” said CMU head coach Keno Davis. “(Miami) started off the game shooting really well and our guys didn’t respond as well as I would have liked them to.”

A slow first-half start kept the Chippewas out of the game early, but a pair of 3-pointers from sophomore forward Blake Hibbitts had CMU back in the game with three minutes remaining in the first half.

“I was able to get some pretty good looks out there, so I had to shoot,” Hibbitts said. “I took 11 3-pointers so I had to make some of them, right?”

Hibbitts finished with 17 points in the loss.

CMU leading scorer Chris Fowler (22 points) found forward John Simons who scored to give the Chippewas a 25-24 lead just before the half.

Simons finished the game with 10 points and nine rebounds.

“We just became careless with the basketball after that,” Fowler said. “We turned the ball over 17 times. We just weren’t the tougher team tonight.”

Central Michigan’s defense imploded early in the second half allowing a 6-0 RedHawks run. MU led 36-33 with 15:25 remaining in the game.

CMU was able to get the lead down to three points with 30 seconds remaining, but the Chippewas were forced to foul and Miami hit the necessary free-throws to seal the victory.

The RedHawks shot 17-of-21 from the charity stripe in the victory.

“That’s the way this league is; sometimes a team like that can come into your place and beat you,” Davis said. “We learn from it and keep moving. I would be shocked if this team did not continue to get better with how hard these guys work.”

Central Michigan has little time to mourn it’s first conference loss as the Chippewas head to 12-2 Toledo on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.

“We are the type of team that can beat anybody in this conference but we are also capable of losing to everybody in this conference,” Davis said. “It’s just a matter of playing to the highest level we can and tonight we didn’t do that.”


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