Men's basketball downs Ohio, evens up MAC record
It was a game that Central Michigan men's basketball needed to have for its Mid-American Conference title hopes, and it found a way to win.
The Chippewas (17-8, 6-6 MAC) defeated Ohio (11-13, 3-9) 87-80 in McGuirk Arena.
CMU's usual leaders of senior guards Larry Austin Jr. and Shawn Roundtree Jr. again led the way. This time, however, all of the Chippewas starters scored in double figures.
"Everyone was ready," Roundtree said. "But we had great minutes from our bench as well."
CMU's ability to finish this game was an attribute that was missing in its last two games against Buffalo and Bowling Green.
Austin said that finishing games the way they did against the Bobcats can help them earn a high seed in the MAC Tournament.
"We have to find a complete 40 minutes," Austin said. "If we can play a complete 40-minute game we'll be just fine. Once we do that, I think we'll be really good."
How it happened
Jason Preston opened the scoring for the Bobcats with a jumper 22 seconds into the game. His make started 4-1 flurry, to which CMU responded to a 6-0 run of its own capped off by a jump-shot made by junior forward David DiLeo.
Ohio and CMU battled back and forth trading the lead three times in the first half with the Bobcats leading by as many as four, and the Chippewas by as many as five.
The Chippewas closed the first half by scoring the final five points with a layup from junior guard Kevin McKay and DiLeo draining a triple with 32 seconds left in the half. It gave CMU a 38-35 lead heading to the break.
In the second half, DiLeo hit a jumper to extend the Chippewa lead to eight. From that point, Ohio would dwindle CMU's lead only to have it grow again. It kept the Bobcats at bay for the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Then, the Bobcats closed the gap.
Ohio closed the Chippewa lead down to one on back-to-back 3-pointers from Ben Vander-Plas and Gavin Block. The sequence of two transition triples brought the score to 64-63, CMU.
Following a timeout from head coach Keno Davis, the teams continues to battle with CMU nursing its lead with free throws and inside scoring.
Roundtree put the Chippewas ahead 79-74 with a jumper from the MAC logo as he scored six straight CMU points.
The Chippewas closed the game on an 11-6 run that was fueled by free throw shooting. Roundtree, Austin and DiLeo each made free throws to seal the win for CMU.
CMU shot 80 percent from the free throw line and Davis said that it was a product of his team's hard work.
"I'm sure the players are appreciative of the long hours they put in on their free throws," Davis said. "We're starting to see those rewards."
The Chippewas struggled from beyond the arc against the Bobcats. They ended the game shooting 27 percent (5-18) from long-distance.
Austin said Davis told the team how important it is for them to stay aggressive offensively.
"It is very important for us to get to the free throw line," Austin said. "Us getting to the line plays a big part in us winning."
The Chippewas continue their two-game home stand at 7 p.m. on Feb. 19 as they welcome Kent State to McGuirk Arena.