Men's basketball cruises past Sam Houston State, moves onto second round


Junior guard Shawn Roundtree attempts to make a basket during the game against Eureka on Nov. 18 at McGuirk Arena. 

Transfer guard Shawn Roundtree and senior forward Cecil Williams combined for 36 points to guide the Central Michigan men’s basketball team to a 71-60 win over Sam Houston State on Wednesday night at the Alaska Airlines Center.

The Chippewas traveled over 3,600 miles to top Bearkats in the opening round of the Great Alaskan Shootout and are now 3-1 on the season.

Head coach Keno Davis said the free throw shooting was huge again, as CMU made 16 of its 18 attempts from the charity stripe.

“We practice them all the time and I think it says a lot about the guys character when they make these clutch shots,” Davis said. “We have a lot of guys that can knock them down consistently and as we cut down our turnovers in the future I think we will get to the line more.”

CMU opened the game with three made 3-pointers from Williams, sophomore forward David DiLeo and Roundtree to have an early 13-8 advantage.

The three’s didn't stop falling as freshman guard Matt Beachler drained a triple to become the fifth different CMU player to hit a 3-pointer to open the game, giving CMU a 21-10 lead with 11:40 left in the opening half.

After SHSU would get the lead back to single digits, the Chippewas responded with a 5-0 run for their largest lead of the game, 28-14 with 7:57 left in the half. 

SHSU would continue to have small runs cutting into the CMU lead, but they had an answer every time taking a 42-30 lead into the locker room.

Roundtree led everybody with 12 points while adding four assists and three rebounds. Seven different CMU players scored in the first half, with six of them hitting 3-pointers.

The Chippewas shot 44.8 percent (13-for-29) from the field and 38.9 percent (7-for-18) from beyond the arc in the opening half. They forced seven SHSU turnovers and out-rebounded the Bearkats 21-14.

CMU opened the second half on the back on Williams scoring back-to-back buckets, forcing a SHSU timeout and giving CMU its largest lead at 47-30 just over a minute into the half.

The Chippewas would cruise to a victory, never letting the Bearkats get back within single digits.

Roundtree led everybody with 20 points, going 5-for-13 from the field but 8-for-9 from the free throw line. 

“Shawn (Roundtree) was excellent tonight and we knew he could be the player he is showing everyone he is right now,” Davis said. “He’s playing more minutes than I would like, but I also like the ball in his hands so it goes both ways.”

Williams was the only other Chippewa in double figures with 16 points, but DiLeo was one point away from a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds. 

CMU shot 42.3 (22-for-52) percent from the field and 37.9 percent (11-for-29) from beyond the arc, while out-rebounding the Bearkats 34-29 (24-16 defense, 10-13 offense) on the night.

While CMU did score 16 points of the 10 SHSU turnovers, CMU committed 14 of their own on the night but only allowed eight points off of them.

As a defense, the Chippewas held SHSU to 40.3 percent shooting and just 23.3 percent from deep, but did allow 28 points in the paint.

Davis said the defensive intensity was turned up for CMU in this game, and holding them to low shot percentage totals says it for them.

“Our defense is night and day from where it was at a season ago,” Davis said. “Not because we have a lot new guys, because they want to work and might become really good defensively.”   

The Chippewas will now head to the second round of the winners bracket to take on Cal Poly at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 24, at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Davis said they need to “force the tempo” on both ends of the floor against a face-paced team like Cal Poly.

“They will come ready to play and if we start off slow they will take advantage,” Davis said. “We have to learn how to win games in different styles of play and this should be a good test for us.”


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