Chippewa women escape Bowling Green to remain undefeated in MAC play

Central Michigan guard Micaela Kelly high-fives forward Kyra Bussell after scoring against Bowling Green Feb. 15 at McGuirk Arena.

A 19-second sequence which began with a corner 3-pointer from junior forward Kyra Bussell, followed by a steal by senior forward Gabrielle Bird, and ending with a layup by freshman guard Molly Davis propelled Central Michigan to a seven-point lead with 59 seconds remaining.

The Chippewas (19-4, 12-0 Mid-American Conference) hung on to defeat Bowling Green 82-75 Saturday in McGuirk Arena.

After a slow first half, the Falcons (8-16, 1-11 MAC) battled back in the second half sparked by a 24-point third quarter to within two points before Central Michigan pulled away the victory.

"I'm really proud of our team," coach Heather Oesterle said. "The way they step up in crunch time. We've had different people step up every game, which I think is the beauty of this team."

Following the layup by Davis, the Chippewas held the lead at 76-69 and the Falcons began to intentional foul on the next possession for CMU. 

The win was the 12th consecutive for the Chippewas and continues their undefeated streak in conference play. The last time the Chippewas began conference play 12-0 was the 2017-18 season when they made the Sweet 16. 

Early lead

The Chippewas trailed for only seven seconds throughout the entire game. However, the Falcons were able to keep the game closely contested in the second half. CMU led by as much as 16 in the first half, but could not keep BGSU from fighting back into the game. 

Despite losing the early lead, the Chippewas were able to maintain composure and seal the victory. CMU has shown throughout the season it is capable of playing in and winning tight games. Bussell and several other players are always ready to step up when needed.

"I've said this a million times and I'm going to keep saying it," Bussell said, “I pretty much do whatever the team needs me to do at the moment, that time it was making threes on the outside, knocking those down."

Contributions from starters

Bussell and Davis along with junior guards Micaela Kelly and Maddy Watters combined for 74 of the team‘s 82 points. Bussell led the team with 23 points on 9-of-20 shooting including a career-high five triples.

"It's awesome to see them go in, but it's also awesome to get my teammates going," Bussell said. "At one of those moments we just needed a three and if I'm able to provide that for the team, that's pretty much what I need to do."

Davis finished with 17 points and five assists. Watters had 15 points, her highest scoring total since she scored 17 in the opener against Green Bay.

Kelly earned a double-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists as she fell just two assists short of a triple-double.

"It's something I've worked on and I've seen it come together piece-by-piece," Kelly said.

The Chippewas had only eight points from their bench. Six of those came from redshirt sophomore guard Sophia Karasinski, who came off the bench and hit two 3-pointers before missing the next two. Bird — who played 32 minutes — had four rebounds, two steals and two assists but was held scoreless for the first time this season.

Looking ahead

The Chippewas will be back in McGuirk Arena at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Kent State. The Golden Flashes (13-9, 6-5 MAC) are currently second in the MAC East trailing only Ohio.

For CMU, each win moves the team closer to clinching a MAC West title. A meeting between second-place Ball State (16-7, 8-3 MAC) Feb. 29 could be the game that determines the division winner.