Women's basketball closes 15 point gap, beats Western Michigan in second round of MAC Tournament
Central Michigan: 66 | Western Michigan: 62
With conference tournaments going on all around college basketball, it was finally Central Michigan’s turn as the women took on the Western Michigan Broncos for the third time this season at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
The second-seeded Chippewas (21-9, 15-4 Mid-American Conference) defeated the No. 7 Broncos (17-15, 8-11 MAC) 66-62 in the second round of the MAC Tournament.
Sophomore forward Tinara Moore and freshman guard Presley Hudson, who was named MAC Freshman of the Year on Tuesday, led all scorers in the game with 18 points each. Moore also gathered 12 rebounds to record her 17th double-double this season.
The Broncos started where they left off last game against Northern Illinois, who they scored 94 points against on Monday, going on a 14-2 scoring run to begin the first quarter.
By the end of the first, WMU led 25-15.
Broncos junior guard Meredith Shipman had 14 points by herself in the first ten minutes. She was 4-for-4 from 3-pointers and 6-for-6 on her field goals in the quarter.
“I didn’t think we were closing out on (Shipman) tight enough,” said Head Coach Sue Guevara, who was named MAC Head Coach of the Year on Tuesday. “That’s a shooter that you can’t give any error. She’s got a quick release, so you’ve got to get out on her right away. I thought we were a little slow reacting to her.”
CMU would go on a 7-0 scoring run of its own to end the second quarter, cutting the Broncos' lead to 36-30 by halftime. CMU made 38.7 percent of its field goals (12-of-31) and 14.3 percent of its 3-pointers (1-of-7) in the first half.
The Chippewas' offense stayed hot in the second half, making three of their first five 3-pointers. CMU took its first lead of the game with a little under 3 minutes left in the third quarter after a made free throw by redshirt junior Jewel Cotton.
Cotton, the MAC's Co-Sixth Man of the Year, finished with 16 points off the bench.
However, WMU ended the third quarter with a 52-50 lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
“I think anytime you play a team a third time you know each other’s tendencies," Guevara said. “Western came out and punched us in our mouth really fast. They were playing on a lot of emotion and a lot of energy. I thought our team was very resilient and we survived.”
Sophomore guard Cassie Breen made her first bucket of the game with 8:35 remaining in the fourth quarter as she hit a 3-pointer that gave CMU a one-point lead.
With CMU still up by one with 1:35 left, Breen hit her second 3-pointer of the night, giving the Chippewas a four point lead.
The Chippewas finished 6-of-18 from 3-point range against the MAC's second-best 3-point defense.
“I thought we did a pretty good job shutting down (Shipman) in the second half,” Guevara said. “I thought we had momentum going into the half. Our goal was to cut their lead to six and we did. I thought that (3-pointer) that Cassie hit was huge. She only made two shots and that was a big one.”
The Broncos weren't able to answer from Breen’s final 3-pointer and missed a 3-pointer as the last buzzer sounded, ending the game with a CMU victory.
CMU now waits to play the winner of No. 3 Ball State and No. 6 Eastern Michigan. CMU's game will be played on Friday in Cleveland. The time is yet to be determined, but is estimated to be 2:30 p.m.
Western Michigan's junior Meredith Shipman finished with 17 points. Seniors Alex Morton had 15 and Jessica Jessing, after dropping 19 points on NIU on Monday, had just four.
CMU held the Broncos to shooting just four free throws all game — just one was made — while CMU made 12-of-17 free throw attempts.
CMU had just six turnovers and tallied 13 assists and 19 bench points — compared to WMU's four.
The Chippewas also out-rebounded WMU 42-to-35. Freshman forward Reyna Frost, a member of the MAC's All-Freshmen Team, tracked down 11 rebounds.
Assistant Sports Editor Andrew Surma contributed to this article.