Women's basketball scores three in first quarter, loses Miami Holiday Classic opener

Senior guard Presley Hudson gets past her defender for a score on Dec. 20 at McGuirk Arena.

Three points in the first quarter for the Central Michigan women's basketball team put coach Sue Guevara's group in a hole that was too deep for recovery.

Sophomore guard Micaela Kelly scored the only field goal of the first quarter on a layup to open the game just over a minute into the action, but CMU was unable to muster much offense until the second half.

CMU dropped a 68-57 outcome to Tulane in the opening game of the Miami Holiday Classic on Dec. 29. The falter was the second-straight for the Chippewas (8-3) after a 72-68 loss against No. 3 Louisville last week.

"We took some very quick shots," Guevara said. "We didn't make Tulane play much defense, especially in the first quarter because it was catch-and-shoot, catch-and-shoot and they weren't going in. We weren't attacking."

The Chippewas responded by outscoring the Green Wave (9-3) by 12 points, 20-8, in the third quarter.

Kelly's back-to-back free throws with 4:15 remaining in the game cut CMU's deficit to 56-50, but a series of layups from sophomore forward Krystal Freeman and senior center Harlan Wyatt helped sure the 11-point victory for Tulane.

"We cut it to two possessions, but we didn't make them play any defense in those three possessions that we had," Guevara said. "So it was a quite disappointing display, to be quite frank." 

Freeman scored 17 points, and her 7-of-8 free throw effort paced her total. She chipped in 10 rebounds and three assists. Junior point guard Kayla Manuirirangi put in 16 points over a team-high 35 minutes of playing time. Wyatt had 14 and three rebounds.

"It's who they are," Guevara said of Freeman, Manuiriangi and Wyatt. "It's their big players inside. I thought we did a pretty good job on them, but they got free throws down the stretch. It's not anything we weren't ready for, but it's just we have to execute on the offensive end of the floor."

CMU senior guard Presley Hudson's 33 consecutive games of scoring in double digits was put to sleep when she posted just seven points against Tulane. The last time she fell below 10 points was on Dec. 21, 2017 against Quinnipiac.

Hudson was held to 2-of-13 from the field and 2-of-9 from the 3-point line. She threw six assists and pulled down four boards.

Without many contributions from Hudson, sophomore forward Kyra Bussell stepped up off the bench for the Chippewas. In 29 minutes, she logged a career-high 19 points and eight rebounds on 9-of-15 shooting from the field.

Senior guard Reyna Frost grabbed 15 rebounds while scoring 12 points for her ninth double-double of the season, but it was not enough to bring CMU back from an early deficit.

CMU finished 21-of-75 (28 percent) from the field and 6-of-30 (20 percent) from the 3-point line. Tulane was 22-of-51 (43.1 percent) on all shots and 7-of-15 (46.7 percent) on attempts from downtown.

The Chippewas face host Miami (FL) in their second and final game of the Miami Holiday Classic at 4 p.m. Dec. 30. The Hurricanes (12-2) are ranked No. 24 in the nation and defeated Florida A&M on Dec. 28, 103-54.