Women’s basketball earns first win of season in overtime against Dayton

Junior guard Micaela Kelly runs the offense in Central Michigan's Nov. 21 game against Dayton in McGuirk Arena.

With 15 seconds left in overtime, junior guard Micaela Kelly drove to the basket and scored to give the Central Michigan women’s basketball team the lead. 

The layup gave Kelly a career-high 29 points for the game, of which 10 came in overtime.

”Down the stretch, I want to win,” Kelly said. “I trust myself so even if I don’t make the layup I can try and get contact and get the foul.”

The Chippewas (1-3) defeated Dayton, 81-80, on Thursday at McGuirk Arena to give the team its first victory of the season, and coach Heather Oesterle her first career win.

”We got the dub, we got the first one for (Oesterle),” Kelly said. “We just were tired of losing, we got to come together and dig deep. By us coming together the last whatever, we dug deep and came together and played as a team. I can give props to my teammates, we stuck it out and kept fighting.”

The game was close for four quarters and with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Chippewas held the lead, 71-65. The Flyers (3-2) were able to score six points and keep Central Michigan scoreless to force overtime for the second time in as many home games for CMU. 

After winning the opening tip-off to begin overtime, the Chippewas allowed Dayton to score four unanswered points and take the lead 75-71. 

That is when Kelly took over the game, scoring all 10 points for the Chippewas in overtime including the game-winning layup.

”She took this team on her back,” Oesterle said.

The first win of the season coincided with the first game of the season that the Chippewas won the rebounding battle. CMU outrebounded Dayton 43-40, allowing only six second-chance points. 

“The last couple of days has been focused on rebounding,” Oesterle said after the game. “We have to keep staying with that, sometimes I tell the team we’re going to be smaller than teams, we just have to have that much more fight in us.”

Freshman guard Molly Davis had a career day scoring 21 points on 9-10 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds. After scoring 15 points in the opening game of her career, the Midland native failed to score in double digits until breaking out Thursday.

Until the matchup against the Flyers, Davis had been struggling shooting the 3-pointer. She was able to knock down 3 of 4 attempts from beyond the line against Dayton. 

”My teammates, my coaches and everyone has been getting on me a little bit,” Davis said. “They gave me that confidence throughout the entire game. It was finally good to see some threes go in.”

Combined, Davis and Kelly accounted for 50 of the 80 points the Chippewas scored, or roughly 62%.

Freshman forward Shine Strickland-Gills saw five minutes of playing time throughout the game, including a significant amount of time on the defensive end of the court during the latter part of the fourth quarter and overtime.

Oesterle said that she wanted Strickland-Gills among others to see experience before the Chippewas head into Mid-American Conference play. 

”Shine has been giving us a lot in practice,” Oesterle said. “She started this year basically all on the scout team and she’s been getting better every day. So I told our staff that I wanted to give her an opportunity in the first half to get in there and get her feet wet and get a feel for the game.”

Part of the reason Oesterle used Strickland-Gills down the stretch was sophomore center Jahari Smith’s performance late in the game. 

Smith started the game strong with four points and five rebounds early in the first quarter. However, as the game went on, she missed some opportunities.

“Jahari is a sophomore and I thought she started the game really well, but then down the stretch she kind of got in her head,” Oesterle said. “ I needed a sub for her that could go in and rebound.”

Junior Maddy Watters had 10 points while shooting 2 of 3 from the field and shooting 4 of 4 from the free throw line. Watters' only miss came in the final seconds of the fourth quarter as she shot a contested 3-pointer to try and win the game. 

Junior forward Kyra Bussell had another solid performance, posting a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Chippewas will look to carry their momentum when they welcome Northeastern to McGuirk Arena on Nov. 27. The Flyers defeated Northeastern, 71-60, in their last game before losing to CMU.