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Broncos tamed, women's hoops open MAC play with 82-71 victory

Central Michigan guard Molly Davis drives to the basket against a Western Michigan defender Dec. 9 at McGuirk Arena.

After a nine-month hiatus, Central Michigan women’s basketball played in McGuirk Arena. 

Much like their last home game, the Chippewas successfully defended home court, defeating arch rival Western Michigan, 82-71, on Wednesday.

The win pulled CMU to 1-1 while claiming its fifth straight Mid-American Conference opener and defeating WMU for seventh consecutive game, taking 19 of the last 22 contests. 

Head coach Heather Oesterle was happy to earn the Chippewa's first victory of the year and emerge victorious in their MAC opener despite some early miscues, including 10 turnovers. 

“I told the team after (the game) it wasn’t pretty my any means,” Oesterle said. “I think it was hard to get in a flow offensively with so many whistles being blown. I will watch (the game tape) with the team and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The second-year head coach gave credit to WMU (1-1, 0-1 MAC) for confusing CMU’s backcourt.

“They switched up their defense a lot and got Micaela (Kelly) and Molly (Davis) guessing about what we should run,” Oesterle said. “We’re the type of team that can do whatever we do against man or zone, but when (WMU) kept mixing up their zone and man they forced Micaela and Molly to second guess themselves.”

The game was played in front of no fans due to COVID-19. Artificial crowd noise was played over the PA system throughout the game. 

“It felt good to be out there today,” Davis, a sophomore guard, said. “(Everyone) is in the same boat. I think we are all just blessed that we’re able to play right now. 

Trailing 11-10 with 3:42 remaining in the first quarter, a 3- pointer from senior guard Maddy Watters ignited a 20-5 run for the Chippewas that lasted nearly seven minutes. CMU never looked back, leading 42-30 at halftime. 

WMU would claw to within single digits to start the third quarter but failed to come within double digits throughout the second half, trailing by as many as 22 points. CMU led for 38:16 out of 40 minutes.

Davis finished with 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting, six rebounds and six assists. Senior guard Micaela Kelly scored 15 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Bussell notched 15 points and six rebounds before fouling out with 1:35 remaining in the game, while Watters shot 4-of-6 from 3-point range to contribute 12 points. 

WMU sophomore guard Sydney Shafer scored a team-leading 17 points and was one of three Broncos to score double figures. WMU junior guard Maddie Watters contributed four points.

The Chippewas finished 8-of-19 from beyond the arc in the game’s first 20 minutes, including three triples from senior forward Kyra Bussell. CMU finished the day 32-of-67 from the floor, 14-of-36 from deep and won the turnover battle 17-10.

CMU continues its homestand when it hosts Cincinnati at 12 p.m. on Saturday and Miami (Ohio) at 2 p.m. on Dec. 15.