Women's basketball dominates in early conference play

RS freshman guard Micaela Kelly scores off of a Vanderbilt turnover on Nov. 14 at McGuirk Arena.

For the second consecutive year, the Central Michigan women’s basketball team has jumped out to an early 3-0 start in the Mid-American Conference.

With two roads wins against Ball State (13-1, 2-1) and Miami (9-5, 1-2) along with a home rout of Ohio (8-6, 2-1), the 2017-2018 team has matched the start of last year’s team, who went on to win the regular season MAC title.

Statistically, this team is looking better than the defending conference champion team. Average scoring is up 3.6 points to 81.4 — that’s good enough for 22nd in the country for offense. Free throw percentage is up 6 percent to 83.9, giving CMU a No. 2 ranking in the nation for that statistic.

Of the 21 statistic areas recorded, CMU ranks in the top three in 14 of those in the MAC.

The Chippewas stand alone atop the MAC as the last team boasting an undefeated record. While their early success has head coach Sue Guevara optimistic, there are still improvements to be made.

Most of all, Guevara has expressed frustration in the way her team has taken care of the ball.

“Our unforced turnovers are driving me right out of my mind,” Guevara said. “We’re in such a hurry. There are little things that we have to clean up. We have to get that all cleaned up by the time the end of February comes.”

Averaging 15.5 turnovers per game, taking care of the ball has been the weak spot for CMU all season and something Guevara has agonized over after every game. In the win against Ball State, there were 26 recorded Chippewa turnovers allowing for 18 Cardinal points.

However, to allow that many turnovers and still escape with a victory against a now one-loss Ball State team is uncommon. It marked just the third win for CMU in the past 12 meetings between the two teams in Muncie, Indiana.

CMU won’t have to wait long before it faces a similar test against a MAC team in the same caliber as Ball State. The next three matchups for the Chippewas are Bowling Green (8-6, 0-3), Kent State (8-7,1-2), and Northern Illinois (10-4, 2-1). The Huskies will most likely give CMU the hardest time out of the upcoming contests.

After playing four of the past six games on the road, CMU comes back to McGuirk for a small home stand against Bowling Green at 7 p.m. on January 13 and Kent State at 1 p.m on January 13 before heading to DeKalb, Illinois for a MAC West Division showdown with one of the conference’s best against the Huskies.

“If we can stay with one game at a time, but getting contributions from everybody, I think we’re going to be tough,” Guevara said.