Raucous atmosphere, key performances help men's basketball take down WMU

Mendon sophomore Dylan Jergens, left, and North Miami senior Ralph Bissainthe, right, celebrate with the student section after the team’s win against Western, Thursday, Feb. 3, in McGuirk Arena.

An electric Thursday night in McGuirk arena was the perfect setting for this historic rivalry of CMU vs. WMU. The results did not disappoint as the crowd made it clear who they were rooting for. 

“Having the fans there was such an added atmosphere for all that energy we bring, we were so excited, it was so fun, it gave us energy,” said CMU guard Cam Healy.

Play was close for most of the game but once the Chippewas gained momentum, they kept rolling to take down Western Michigan 65-55.

With its 12 consecutive loss WMU (4-18, 0-11) remains winless in conference play, while CMU (5-13, 4-3) gets above .500 in the conference and extend its win streak to three games.

Kevin Miller sprinted down the court after swiping the rock and with a backwards pass found Ralph Bissainthe for the fastbreak jam. This was a big momentum swing for the Chippewas early in the game. The crowd erupted and team began to settle.

“He plays for his team, he plays hard, he creates offense for everybody, he’s not scared, he’ll take big shots, and on defense he’ll get after you,” said CMU head coach Tony Barbee on Kevin Miller's play. 

Before that play, the Chippewas were cold shooting from the field in the first half going 8-for-22 and 0-for-7 from beyond the arc. But as CMU struggled to shoot on the floor, WMU struggled equally from the floor shooting 5-10 from the free-throw line. 

The halftime score was 28-24. In a chippy rivalry game with WMU looking to get its first win since Dec. 18, defense was a focus for both teams throughout the night.

CMU got its first three 23 minutes into the game off the Fastbreak and the CMU crowd couldn’t have been happier. This shot brought the Chippewas within one bucket to tie and they did that off an inbound steal.

With the game close, intensity was bound to rise, and when the Chippewas took their first lead of the game with 11 minutes remaining, it lit a fire underneath the home team.

Cam Healy and Miller traded back-to-back three pointers to put the Chippewas up 5 points with 10 minutes left in regulation. They continued their scoring outburst from Tuesday’s win over Bowling Green. 

Healy erupted a game-high 23 points on 7-11 shooting and 3-5 from the three and six rebounds.

“I feel like I’m in a confident space. We lost two major players, I know my role as a shooter and a scorer and I’m just trying to do what the coaches ask of me,” Healy said. “With a couple people leaving its given a little bit of opportunity throughout the team and people have had to step up and I’m just trying to do the same thing.”

The fans in attendance unanimously decided, through chants, that Healy was the MVP of the night. That honor could’ve also applied to Miller with his 18 points off 5-9 shooting, 1-3 from three, a game high 6 assists and 6 rebounds.

Even though CMU got the win Broncos star Lamar Norman Jr. would not go down quietly as he scored a team high 18 points on high volume shooting.

The Chippewas stick close to home to face the Buffalo Bulls on Sat. at 7 p.m. at McGuirk Arena.