Chippewas defeat Toledo behind Davis’ 28 points

Central Michigan guards Micaela Kelly, 1, and Molly Davis, 14, high-five after Davis hit two consecutive three pointers in the first quarter against Toledo Jan. 25 at McGuirk Arena.

The crowd at McGuirk Arena fell silent as the ball balanced on the rim before falling in and sending shockwaves through the arena.

Junior guard Maddy Watters’ layup with just under four minutes left led to a 3-point play opportunity for Central Michigan and gave the Chippewas a four-point lead on their way to a 73-66 victory over Toledo on Saturday.

CMU (14-4, 7-0 Mid-American Conference) defeated the Rockets (9-8, 4-2 MAC) in a game that featured the top two teams in the MAC West Division.

The Chippewas were led by freshman guard Molly Davis, who played all 40 minutes of the game and scored a career-high 28 points. Davis had two free throws with 21 seconds left in the game to seal the victory for her team.

Davis knocked down two big triples to start the game and helped CMU jump out to an early 17-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

The second quarter belonged to the Rockets. Toledo scored 23 points in the second period to end the half with a two-point lead.

Junior guard Micaela Kelly had a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. She struggled to find her shooting stroke from the field, but affected the game in other ways.

“Basically when my shot is not falling, I have to keep myself up,” Kelly said. “look for other ways to get the points on the board, passing to my teammates, attacking to kick, staying composed.”

Kelly was primarily responsible for defending Toledo’s Nakiah Black in the second half. Black had 15 points in the first half and finished with 19.

”[Black] a good player, I respect her game,” Kelly said. “She hit some big shots in the first half, at half time I told myself that I wanted to guard her and lock her down.”

Sophomore Jahari Smith made two free throws with 5:53 left in the third quarter. After Smith’s free throws, Davis began scoring at will as she put up the next 13 Chippewa points before she got the assist on a triple by junior forward Kyra Bussell. 

It wasn’t until Watters‘ layup in the fourth quarter that a Chippewa that wasn’t Davis or Bussell scored.

Watters finished the game with four points and three steals. Bussell finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. She was 2-of-4 from the behind 3-point line.

Smith finished the game with a season-high 10 rebounds and eight points for one of her best games of the season.

Coach Heather Oesterle relied on minutes from a smaller portion of the bench than has been typical this season.

Aside from the starting five, senior forwards Gabrielle Bird and MacKenna Kelly each played significant minutes off the bench as did redshirt sophomore guard Kalle Martinez, who played 11 minutes.

“These games right now are getting us ready for March basketball,“ Oesterle said. “When the stakes are really high and there’s a lot of excitement and we’re getting everybody’s best shot at us and that’s been for years now. I‘ve been learning, our team there is just no quit.”

CMU will have to quickly turn around as it travels to Buffalo to face the Bulls at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Alumni Arena.