Men's basketball downs Cal State Bakersfield to win Great Alaska Shootout
In the 40th and final Great Alaska Shootout tournament, the Central Michigan men’s basketball team etched its name in the history books as champions.
The Chippewas (5-1) fended off Cal State Bakersfield (4-3) Sunday at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, with a final score of 75-72.
“We gave extreme effort,” CMU head coach Keno Davis said. “We didn’t always make the right play, but we played extremely hard through three games, which is what you have to do to win a tournament.”
CSU Bakersfield got off to a hot start, as redshirt junior guard Damiyne Durham and junior guard Rickey Holden both connected on 3-pointers to give the Runners a 27-21 edge. Durham and Holden combined for 25 points in the first half.
The momentum switched back in favor of the Chippewas after five-straight points from freshman guard Matt Beachler with just over four minutes remaining before halftime. Beachler’s 3-pointer tied the game and was the last time the Runners held a lead until late in the second half.
Junior guard Gavin Peppers capped off the first half of action with a layup at the buzzer, giving the Chippewas a 39-36 lead.
After CMU managed to jump out to a 10-point lead, CSU Bakersfield freshman guard Justin Davis scored a layup and Durham added a 3-pointer, cutting CSU Bakersfield's deficit to five points with 13:19 left in the game.
“(CSU Bakersfield) was making everything,” Davis said. “Not only were they talented going inside, but they were also making tough shots. They also crush people on the glass, but our offensive rebounds allowed us to stay in the game and get the victory.”
Durham buried a 3-pointer with just under four minutes to play to give his team its first lead of the second half.
Durham finished the game with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field for the Runners.
CMU had a chance ensure the win, but junior guard Shawn Roundtree missed two free throws with six seconds left, giving CSU Bakersfield one more chance.
The Runners gave the ball to Durham for the final shot. He dribbled past multiple CMU defenders to earn an open shot, but his 3-pointer was short.
Roundtree led the way for the Chippewas with 15 points and six assists. CMU had four other players score double-digit points in senior forward Luke Meyer (14), sophomore guard David DiLeo (13) and senior forward Cecil Williams (12). DiLeo also managed to pull down a team-high six rebounds.
By winning the Great Alaska Shootout, Davis is the second generation in his family to do so, as his father, Tom Davis, won the tournament with Iowa in the 1986-87 season.
“It was one of my father’s greatest teams in 1986 with Kevin Gamble playing for him,” Davis said. “To be able to come up here in the last tournament with no other opportunities, play well and win the tournament definitely is a special feeling.”
Following the game, Roundtree was named the Great Alaska Shootout Most Valuable Player, while Meyer and Williams were named to the All-Tournament Team.
“(Roundtree) is a gamer,” Davis said. “He made the big play when we needed it. He settles the young guys when the ball is in his hands and we know the right play is going to be made more times than not.”