Southern Utah snaps men’s basketball’s winning streak, wins 86-80
The Central Michigan men’s basketball team got off to a slow start in the America First Event Center in Cedar City, falling 86-80 to Southern Utah on Dec. 16.
"We (responded), just not quick enough," CMU head coach Keno Davis said. "If we did that, I would've felt like we were the better team at the end of the game, but obviously that doesn't mean much because it's about the better team over 40 minutes."
Junior guard Brandon Better led the way for the Thunderbirds (6-4) over the Chippewas (8-2) with 17 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Southern Utah went on a 15-9 run to start the game, but had to fight for a 42-40 halftime lead. CMU junior guard Shawn Roundtree gave CMU a two-point edge with 38 seconds left, but Southern Utah earned it back on three-straight free throws to close out the first half.
Southern Utah sophomore forward Ivan Madunic, a native of Croatia, was the story of the first half, scoring his first four 3-pointers of the game.
With 15:07 left in the game, the Thunderbirds got a 3-pointer from James McGee, giving the team a 61-45 edge, which was Southern Utah’s largest lead of the game.
The Chippewas fought back over the next few minutes, going on a 11-0 run to cut their deficit to five points with 11:10 remaining in the second half.
Davis’ bench was issued a technical foul late in the second half. The foul was specifically given to redshirt sophomore Austin Ervin. The technical put the Chippewas in a hole which they could not bounce back from, eventually losing by six points.
"We have to be able to fight through that," Davis said. "Overall, we didn't respond well enough to get the victory."
Nine players scored in CMU’s loss Southern Utah, including big performances from senior forward Cecil Williams, junior guard Gavin Peppers, sophomore guard Kevin McKay and freshman guard Matt Beachler.
For the Chippewas, Williams kept the game close with a double-double, logging 21 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists. Peppers tossed in 14 points.
The one category CMU gained the edge on over Southern Utah was rebound, winning the battle by 13. In the 41-28 rebounding victory, the Chippewas pulled down 19 offensive boards.
"To be able to out rebound a team by 13, especially when they shot so well, was good," Davis said. "In one category, that was a big bright spot for us."
Beacher, from Lowell High School, went three-of-four from 3-point range, scoring nine points for CMU in his first game back from injury. He added three rebounds and one assist.
Two free throws with 11 seconds left by redshirt junior guard Jadon Cohee iced the game for Southern Utah, snapping CMU’s seven-game winning streak.
"We hope to take the loss as a positive," Davis said. "With the little things you didn't do right, sometimes with a loss you are able to focus on them more."
CMU heads to Kansas City, Missouri at 8 p.m. on Dec. 19 to take on University of Missouri-Kansas City at Municipal Auditorium for its final battle of the two-game road stretch.