CMU Basketball defeats Cal State Northridge


Junior guard Jesse Zarzuela looks looks down the court during a game against Eastern Illinois Sunday, Nov. 13 in McGuirk Arena.

With less than five minutes left in the first half, Central Michigan basketball junior guard Jesse Zarzuela shot from the three-point line looking to end a two-minute scoring drought and take the lead. 

He sunk the ball into the net, as CMU took a 22-21 lead. 

Holding onto their lead in the second half, took down Cal State Northridge 82-66 in the final game of the SoCal Challenge on Wednesday. 

CMU improves to 2-4 on the season, while the Matadors move to 1-3.

“The thing I love about this group is this is a bought-in group,” said head coach Tony Barbee. “They're bought all the way in, and they are bought into how we have to play to be successful as a team and that doesn't mean you play perfect.

"But that means you're trying to impose your will on every single possession because at this level, every single possession matters. We didn't do that consistently enough the other day at High Point so they when we did today against North Ridge.” 

Sophomore guard Kevin Miller took the court after missing Monday's game due to an undisclosed reason. Markus Harding was out for the third game in a row. 

Miller finished the game with 18 points, four rebounds, and six assists.

“Well, you see the difference he makes for our team,” said Barbee. “But it's clear that Miller is one of the best point guards in the country when you see the difference, he made tonight on both ends of the floor. 

"He's a basketball wrecker for the opponent that we're playing on both ends of the floor. He can touch the paint at will, he can score, he can facilitate. He messes up the game plan for the other team and as much as they try to take it away from him, he's just too quick, too savvy and his IQ is too high with the ball...he really put his thumbprint on the game.”

The Chippewas got out to a hot start, but CSNU eventually found its footing going on a 7-0 run and taking their first lead of the game. After a CMU timeout, Miller ended the Matadors' run  with a jump shot putting CMU within two. Junior forward Caleb Hodgson put the Chippewas back on top 17-16, after sinking a three-pointer. 

Zarzuela led the Chippewas with 21 points and three assists.  

“I thought Jesse exhibited a patience offensively,” said Barbee “He took 13 shots in 28 minutes, and he scored 21 points and was eight for 13 that's being efficient. He’s not just a volume shot taker. By him taking great shots and those other possessions where he doesn’t take those four or five, he's been taking the game that are unwarranted. Those become lost possessions for us. Tonight, he took great shots and hunted great shots.”

Going on a 9-0 run to end the first half, the Chippewas went into the locker room with a 31-23 lead. 

Finding a little spark after the break, Cal State Northridge cut the lead to three, but CMU quickly regained control with back-to-back baskets from senior center Miroslav Stafl to take a nine point lead. 

Stafl ended the game with six points, three rebounds, and three assists before fouling out.

Going on a 6-0 run with 2:24 left, CMU sealed the deal for a final score of 82-66.

Senior guard Brian Taylor had 19 points, four rebounds, and two assists. Junior forward Carrington McCaskill had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. 

The Chippewas are back in action on Saturday at 8 p.m. facing off against California Baptist in Riverside, California.