Men’s basketball travels to Liberty for CIT quarterfinal battle
Central Michigan women's basketball isn't the only team chasing a postseason championship.
Central Michigan men’s basketball will take on Liberty (21-14) in the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament at 2 p.m. March 24 at Vines Center in Lynchburg, Virginia.
The Chippewas (21-14) advanced to the quarterfinal round with a 98-94 victory against Wofford on March 16 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Against Wofford, sophomore forward David DiLeo scored 22 points and sophomore guard Kevin McKay added 21 points. McKay recorded eight rebounds and six assists. Senior guard Josh Kozinski tossed in six 3-pointers to help CMU made 17 shots from 3-point range.
"Both teams were scoring at will," Davis said. "Good shooters were making shots. (Fletcher) Magee is a big-time player. Late in the game, we went to a box-on-one. We weren't going to let him score 50 (points) on us and he didn’t.”
To reach Wofford, CMU downed Fort Wayne, 94-89, in the first round of the CIT, which was played at Memorial Coliseum. DiLeo scored 22 points and McKay had 20 for the Chippewas.
The win against Wofford was CMU’s first postseason victory since 2003. During that season Chris Kaman led the Chippewas to a 79-73 upset victory over Creighton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
CMU and Liberty have never met on the hardwood, but both teams have made multiple appearances in the CIT. Liberty has advanced to the quarterfinals in all three of its CIT showings.
Liberty was one victory away from earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament, as head coach Ritchie McKay’s team upset No. 1 UNC Asheville in the Big South Conference Tournament semifinals, but fell to No. 2 Radford in the title game.
The Flames opened CIT action with a 65-62 win over North Carolina A&T on March 12.
"It is not ideal during tourney time to have 12 days off in between games, however, it has allowed a few of our players to get over some ailments," McKay said. "Any time you get to play in a postseason tournament it is an honor and the CIT has provided great experiences for our players."
Redshirt sophomore forward Scottie James is the leader for Liberty, scoring 13.4 points per game. The 6-foot-7, 226-pound athlete pulls down 8.9 rebounds per game and shoots a team-best 61.2 percent from the field.
The Flames are also carried by junior guard Lovell Cabbil, sophomore guard Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz and senior guard Ryan Kemrite, averaging 11.3, 10 and 10 points per game, respectively. Cabbil is the team leader in assists, dishing out 3.5 per contest.
Liberty is ranked No. 5 in the NCAA Division I in free throw shooting, converting on 79.1 percent of shots. CMU, on the other hand, is ranked No. 2 with an 81.0 shooting percentage from the free throw line. The Chippewas went 15-of-15 from the line during the win against Wofford.
The Flames give up just 63.3 points per game. CMU scores 79 points per contest, which is 57th best in the nation, but allows an average of 73.6 points to opposing teams.
In the end-of-season NCAA Division I RPI, Liberty owned a No. 209 ranking out of 351 programs. CMU was No. 168 at the end of Mid-American Conference Tournament play.
CMU last went to the CIT in the 2015-16 season. The Chippewas were knocked out by University of Tennessee-Martin, 76-73, in the first round.
Davis has never made the NCAA Tournament at CMU.