Men's basketball jumps to big lead, loses tight game to No. 23 Buffalo

Senior guard Shawn Roundtree gets past Western Michigan University defense on Feb. 2 in McGuirk Arena.

In front of a 6,000-plus crowd at Alumni Arena, the Central Michigan men's basketball team came out and silenced them with a double figure lead in the first half.

However, the No. 23 ranked Buffalo Bulls had every answer it needed.

The Chippewas just fell short of having enough.

A once 18-point lead for the Chippewas (16-7, 5-5 Mid-American Conference) was shot down before the end of the first half and UB (20-3, 8-2) proved to be too strong with a 90-76 win.

It truly was a game of runs on both sides, but foul trouble and turnovers for CMU allowed the Bulls to get the victory.

"The run we put together early I think shows we have improved as a team since early December," said head coach Keno Davis. "It was a physical game and we weren't strong enough to play through some of the contact, we will learn from it. Hopefully we will get to see Buffalo again."

What happened

The 3-point line was a friend for CMU early as it came out firing on all cylinders from beyond the arc. Senior guard Shawn Roundtree hit two of the three triples for CMU in the opening six minutes and it resulted in an 11-10 lead.

CMU would then start to find slip passes inside for junior forward Rob Montgomery who cashed in a pair of layups. It led the Chippewas on an 11-2 run and they led 19-12 nearing the 11 minute mark of the opening half.

The 3-pointers kept falling for CMU as Morgan and Roundtree drilled back-to-back triples putting CMU ahead 32-14. It was a 24-4 Chippewa run over a span of over nine minutes.

Then the Chippewas completely imploded on both ends. Following turnovers and empty CMU possessions, UB put together a 24-6 run and tied the game at 38 all with 1:52 left in the half. However, CMU ended the half on a 5-0 run and carried a 43-38 lead into the break.

The Chippewas turned the ball over 11 times in the first half which led to 12 UB points. CMU did out-rebound the Bulls 18-12 with six of them coming on offense. 

To open the second half, CMU kept clinging to a slim lead. Junior forward David DiLeo sunk a corner 3-pointer to give CMU a 49-46 lead at 15:45 .

However, that lead would finally fade away for CMU. For the first time since 10-8 at the 15:23 mark in the first half, UB had a 50-49 lead at the 14:23 point of the second half.

UB never gave the lead back. The Bulls continued on a 16-0 run and forced seven more CMU turnovers in the first eight minutes of the second half, resulting in a 58-49 lead.

CMU would try to answer, but senior guard Larry Austin Jr. fouled out at the 9:19 mark, followed by McKay at the 6:27 mark. 

"We have never been called for that many fouls since I've been at Central Michigan," Davis said. "We could've fallen apart down the stretch without our starters but we didn't and that says a lot about this team."

CMU turned the ball over 22 times which resulted in 28 points for the Bulls. UB also scored 27 bench points compared to just 16 from CMU who had bench players on the floor for most of the second half.

Roundtree led the Chippewas with 26 points while adding five rebounds and three assists. DiLeo totaled 12 points, Morgan added 11 points and Montgomery tallied 10, respectively. 

CMU will stay on the road at 7 p.m. on Feb. 12 for another test with MAC East leading Bowling Green at the Stroh Center.