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Wolverines rout Chippewas in second half to secure season-opening victory


Central Michigan guard Molly Davis looks away to make a no-look pass to a teammate against Northern Illinois Feb. 5 at McGuirk Arena.

One minute into the third quarter, senior guard Micaela Kelly made a layup to bring her team within three points. As the quarter progressed, Kelly and the Chippewas traded punches with the No.25-ranked Michigan Wolverines.

Then, with just under four minutes remaining in the quarter, the Wolverines hit the gas. Junior forward Naz Hillmon kicked off a 11-0 run that would give the Wolverines a 16-point advantage heading into the final quarter of play. That advantage was too much for CMU  to overcome, and it fell 93-75 to Michigan Wednesday at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor. 

The Wolverines (1-0) led early, taking a 22-15 advantage after the opening quarter. The Chippewas (0-1) never let the lead sneak into double digits, answering every blow Michigan threw at them. The combination of Kelly and sophomore guard Molly Davis kept their team in it, as the two scored 19 of CMU's 34 points in the first half. 

However, the late third quarter run all but sealed the deal. Michigan jumped on the Chippewas to start the fourth, scoring 13 of the first 18 points of the quarter and pushing its lead to 20. 

Kelly, who was billed as the favorite to repeat as Mid-American Conference Player of the Year and thought of as one of the best mid-major players in the country, willed her team back from an early deficit. She slashed and routinely got to the rim with ease, pouring in 30 points. 

Meanwhile, Davis had a strong debut with 24 points. The Chippewas as a team were successful in transition, scoring 18 points off of Michigan turnovers. 

Yet, Michigan's junior combination of Hillmon and Leigha Brown were too much to handle. Hillmon, a physical 6-foot-2 power forward, secured a double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds, while Brown scored 22 of her own on 9-of-13 shooting. 

Those two played a big role in the Wolverines' domination of the boards, as Michigan outrebounded CMU 41-23. With the Chippewas limited to just one shot on most possessions offensively, they were doomed by a lack of opportunities as the Wolverines continued to run away late in the game. 

Redshirt sophomore Anika Weekes got the start in place of an injured Maddy Watters and scored eight points to go along with six rebounds. Senior forward Kyra Bussell scored five, and freshmen Sydney Graber and Rachel Loobie each scored their first career points for the Chippewas. 

The Wolverines had five players in double figures. Along with Hillmon and Leigha Brown, Hailey Brown, Amy Dilk and Akinereh Johnson each surpassed 10 points as well. 

The Chippewas will next take the court Dec. 6 when they travel to Dayton. CMU won the matchup last season in McGuirk Arena with an 81-80 victory in double overtime.