Men's basketball eliminated in CIT quarterfinals
In the quarterfinal round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, the Central Michigan men’s basketball team fell short.
After keeping the score within striking distance for more than 30 minutes, CMU allowed Liberty to pull away and advance to the semifinals with a 84-71 victory.
The Chippewas season ended with a 21-15 overall record.
“I don’t want to say we didn't play with energy today, but at some points we looked like a tired team,” said head coach Keno Davis. “We just ran out of energy at some points but that doesn't take away from what this group was able to accomplish.”
The Chippewas found the rim from inside in the first half, scoring eight points in the paint and posting an 11-7 lead.
Liberty went on a 7-0 run until transfer guard Shawn Roundtree converted an and-one layup. CMU trailed 17-15 at the 12 minute mark of the first half.
Senior guard Josh Kozinski caught fire from 3-point range. The senior netted three straight 3-pointers leading CMU to a 28-24 lead with 7:14 remaining in the half.
The Flames put together a 9-0 run to close out the half. It was tied 39-39 heading into the locker room.
“I really felt like the last four minutes of the first half was tough for us to bounce back from,” Davis said. “They got hot and credit to them, they kept it going the rest of the way.”
Neither side could pull ahead to open the second half. The two teams traded blows, ending with a senior forward Cecil Williams and-one bucket to tie the score at 48.
The Flames senior guard Ryan Kemrite continued to put on a 3-point shooting clinic. He hit his fifth and sixth triples of the game back-to-back and gave LU a 59-53 advantage with 12:12 to go.
Kemrite hit another triple to put LU back up by double figures. CMU would never get back within single digits in the final six minutes of the game.
In his final game as a Chippewa, Kozinski was tied for a team-high 19 points with DiLeo. Roundtree added 12 points.
Despite the loss, one of Kozinski’s late jumpers pushed him to 1,000 points in his career.
“I think all players look to score 1,000 points in their careers in any form of college basketball,” Kozinski said. “To be able to hit that shot at the end and have teammates who were unselfish enough to give me a chance, says a lot about the guys I’ve played with here.”
DiLeo said it was a good ending to the season because of the team’s growth.
“We stressed all season playing our best basketball in March and besides the Buffalo game I think we accomplished that,” DiLeo said. “We came together when times got tough and didn't quit on each other.
“I think we can build off the way we played in this tournament and look towards next year.”