David DiLeo, Dallas Morgan shine as Central Michigan wins season opener
DiLeo, Morgan score over 20 points each as Chippewas hit century mark
David DiLeo hit a 3-point shot with 5:11 remaining in the first half of the Central Michigan men's basketball team's 102-62 win over Michigan-Dearborn on Tuesday in McGuirk Arena.
As the ball fell through the net and the crowd erupted, DiLeo, a senior forward, held the tips of his thumb and pointer fingers together and swung his arm like a windmill in celebration.
DiLeo came on strong in the middle and late stages of the first half with five 3-pointers and 20 points in the game's first 20 minutes.
"My skillset and biggest attribute that I bring to any team is my 3-point shooting," DiLeo said. "It was feeling good in warmups and obviously continued throughout the first half."
In the first game of his final season, DiLeo finished with 22 points on 70% shooting from the field, including a 71% mark from 3-point range, making five triples.
Coach Keno Davis said that DiLeo's performance was important for CMU (1-0), but it is almost expected from him at this point in his career.
"David is important whether the ball is falling in or not for us," Davis said. "It puts a point of emphasis on other teams to have to stretch their defense not just to the 3-point line, but several steps behind it, you've got all of your attention on him and he still makes shots.
"It can disrupt everything you do at the other end."
DiLeo's efficiency was another piece that Davis was particularly impressed with, scoring 22 points on just 10 shots.
However, the Wolverines were able to shut DiLeo down in the second half, but it opened up the floor for someone else to dominate.
Enter Dallas Morgan.
Morgan, a senior guard, came off the bench for the Chippewas and provided a spark with a steal and a jumper almost immediately after he came into the game.
Throughout the night, but particularly in the second half, Morgan was hustling to every ball and moving quickly to the basket and knocking down jumpers all over the floor.
"I just had a few open looks," Morgan said. "Credit to (junior guard) Deschon Winston, he found me late in the second half and gave me a rhythm and continued to lead me open. I just took what the defense gave me."
Morgan finished with a team-high 23 points on 66% shooting. He also had five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Davis said that Morgan's progression to become a complete player since coming to Central Michigan has been particularly impressive.
"I wish I had Dallas for longer," Davis said. "To see the strides he's made in a short amount of time from when he stepped on campus here is pretty remarkable. Now, he brings not just shooting, but a lot of other things to the table."
Central Michigan's performance was best described as a tale of two halves. In the first, the Chippewas shot 44.7% from the floor and 35.3% from 3-point range, but the team appeared to run isolation plays that were not designed to be run.
Davis said that was a product of a team learning how to play together and continuing to improve.
In the second half, CMU moved the ball efficiently and that opened up scoring opportunities as five Chippewas scored in double figures against the Wolverines.
As a team, CMU shot 53% from the field and 44% from 3-point territory. Another piece of importance, the team shot 69% from the free throw line, making 26 attempts from it.
"Especially early in the game, it's nice to get inside and get to the free throw line and get a rhythm to your jump shot," DiLeo said. "We work everyday in practice kind of pump faking, drawing fouls and playing strong down there."
Up next, Central Michigan faces Mississippi Valley State at 2 p.m. Sunday in McGuirk Arena.