Preview: Chippewas take on Miami (Ohio), focused on shutting down Lauren Dickerson
Lauren Dickerson is one of the most prolific guards in the Mid-American Conference, and the Central Michigan women's basketball team is prepared to slow her down.
Dickerson, a 5-foot-3 junior, averages 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game, shooting 33.9 percent from the field, for Miami (Ohio).
The Chippewas (12-3, 3-0 MAC) and RedHawks (10-4, 1-2 MAC) battle at 7 p.m. Jan. 16 in McGuirk Arena.
In the semifinals of the MAC Tournament a season ago, Dickerson torched CMU for 21 points, four rebounds and four assists, but the RedHawks fell to the Chippewas, 61-58.
CMU coach Sue Guevara's aims to shut down Dickerson's offensive attack while containing other weapons Miami possesses.
"She's small, but she can get to the rim," Guevara said of Dickerson. "She can also shoot the 3. They've got some good kids. They can score, are big and love to rebound.
"It's going to be the toughness on the glass that decides this one."
Miami boasts four double-dight scorers in Dickerson, senior forward Kendall McCoy, junior forward Savannah Kluesner and freshman guard Nia Clark.
McCoy posts 13.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest, Kluesner averages 13.0 points and 7.6 rebounds and Clark logs 10.6 points and 2.7 boards.
Since Dickerson is elusive when attacking the basket, Guevara is telling her post players – senior forward Reyna Frost, freshman center Jahari Smith and sophomore forward Kyra Bussell – to play help defense make her shoot the ball over them.
While inside help defense is important, Guevara said it all starts with defense from senior guard Presley Hudson and sophomore guard Micaela Kelly in the backcourt. Kelly is CMU's premier defender and could be the answer to slowing down Dickerson, Guevara added.
"It's the containment of our perimeter players of keeping her in front," Guevara said.
Kelly is elevated for the challenge.
"I know she's going to attack, so we have to stop penetration, such as me containing the ball, ball hander, getting over screens, talking and getting stops," Kelly claimed. "I have to do what I gotta do."
On the offensive side of the ball, Kelly is just as dominant, averaging 14.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists. She shoots 44.9 percent from 3-point range as a counter partner to Hudson.
Hudson paces the backcourt from an offensive standpoint with a team-high 21.7 points per game, 3.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists. Frost chips in a double-double average – 18.5 points and 12.1 rebounds.
To Guevara, Frost's greatest improvement from a season ago is her ability to shoot from downtown. Frost has connected on 20-of-44 (45.5 percent) 3-pointers. Her backup, Bussell, is showing signs of the same success, making 38.1 percent of her triples in 15 games off the bench.
"It's serious. She's legit," Guevara said of Bussell's outside shot. "What I like about it is she's a pick-and-popper. It's nice to see the confidence come in her."
After CMU's game against Miami, the Chippewas hit the road to take on Kent State at 5 p.m. Jan. 19 in Ohio.
"It's just another game," Guevara said of hosting the RedHawks. "It's the biggest game we're going to play on Wednesday."