Women's basketball throttles Western Michigan, clinches at least a share of the MAC regular season title
New nets have been installed in McGuirk Arena.
The Central Michigan women's basketball team cut the old ones down after defeating Western Michigan to clinch at least a share of the Mid-American Conference regular season championship.
CMU (23-6, 14-3 MAC) throttled the Broncos (10-18, 4-13 MAC), 88-57, in McGuirk Arena on March 6 to win its third consecutive conference regular season championship.
It was a game that the Chippewas needed to win in order to control their destiny to secure the top seed in next week's MAC Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio.
Senior guard Reyna Frost said that while it is special to earn a share of the championship, CMU wants the title to itself, and the team is in full control of it.
"We want to win it by ourselves," Frost said. "So we have to take care of business on Saturday."
How it happened
Senior guard Presley Hudson opened the scoring with a long 3-pointer from the left wing, then freshman forward Jahari Smith added a layup to give the Chippewas a quick 5-0 lead.
The Broncos slowly climbed back into the scoring as free throws from senior guard Deja Wimby tied the game at eight points apiece.
CMU would then go on a 9-0 run over the course of four minutes, capped by a sophomore guard Maddy Watters 3-pointer from the right wing. That run put the home team ahead, 17-8.
A pair of free throws from WMU senior forward Jasmyn Walker ended the first quarter at 17-10.
The second quarter showcased the physical nature of the CMU-WMU rivalry.
Frost was knocked down on a number of occasions on the low post. She scored the majority of her points in the first half from the free throw line.
"(Western Michigan) was really physical with me tonight and it was respect thing," Frost said. "That's something I'll have to get use to as we get into March."
Frost and Hudson led the way for CMU with eight points apiece at the half time break.
Junior forward Gabrielle Bird played significant minutes late in the first quarter and second, as sophomore guard Maddy Watters picked up two fouls. Bird scored six points on a pair of 3-pointers from the left corner in the second quarter.
Bird led the charge off the bench, scoring nine of the Chippewas' 20 points from reserves. Head coach Sue Guevara said that she was impressed with Bird's performance but expected nothing less from her.
"(Bird) comes in and just does her job," Guevara said. "For (Bird), you just need to get in, you need to rebound and if the shot is open, take the shot."
CMU outscored WMU 16-10 in the second quarter, which included an 11-4 run that lasted just under four minutes to close the first half. The run culminated with a Frost free throw, and the Chippewas took a 33-20 lead into the break.
The Chippewas responded to the Broncos 4-0 run to open the third quarter with a 9-0 run of their own. Frost scored a pair of layups to cap the run and it gave her a double-double, her 12th straight.
The physicality picked up as the quarter played on. Frost was knocked around down low for most of the quarter, much to the chagrin of the home fans.
The CMU fans became increasingly upset as the Chippewas were called for three fouls on one Bronco possession.
From that point, the Chippewas began scoring at will by going on a 17-3 run from the end of the third quarter and into the beginning stages of the fourth.
CMU led 54-35 following the third period of play.
The final quarter was more of the Hudson and Frost show, and they both exited with around four minutes to play. Each had a game-high 20 points. Sophomore guard Micaela Kelly finished closely behind with 18 points.
The Chippewas play host to Toledo at 1 p.m. on March 9 in McGuirk Arena. If they take the victory on Senior Day, they will clinch the number one seed in the MAC Tournament.