CMU women's basketball falls on the road to Oakland

Graduate student forward Jabari Smith goes for a layup against Valparaiso Monday, November 7 at McGuirk Arena.

With 6:11 left in the third quarter, Central Michigan women's basketball had a 40-36 lead.

But, Oakland went on a 17-6 run, lasting through the start of the fourth quarter. Rochelle Norris and the Chippewas tried to come back, but lost 71-60 on Saturday.

CMU falls to 0-2 on the season.

“We had a couple of turnovers in a row that led to easy baskets for them,” said head coach Heather Oesterle. "But we were right there and then a couple of times we were playing at a frenetic pace, and we need to calm down offensively to take care of the basketball."

In the first quarter, the Chippewas started off slow, recording ten points while shooting 4-for-14 from the floor. CMU had four turnovers in the quarter and allowed the Golden Grizzlies to get into the bonus with three minutes left.

The Chippewas flipped the script in the second, with 10 points in the paint, shooting 66.7 percent from the floor. Senior forward Jahari Smith was the main contributor scoring in the paint, but it was not enough as they trailed 28-27 going into the half.

“Jnaya Walker did a great job in the second quarter getting Jahari the ball,” said Oesterle. "But that’s our strength and we need to be able to get the ball inside and be able to read the help side because a lot of teams are going to go triple team the post."

In the first half, Walker and freshman guard Taylor Anderson was the spark off the bench the Chippewas needed combining for eight points. Smith led the scoring in the first half with six points for CMU.

“Yeah and add Mikala Hall to that,” said Oesterle. "You know we started to pick up our pressure defensively with those two in and they are just smart high basketball IQ players, but Mikala and Taylor, they picked up the pressure defensively which got us some easy looks on the offensive end, so all three of them provided a big spark for us."

Following the break, freshman forward Sydney Harris could not miss scoring seven of the Chippewas' first nine points. Bridget Utberg hit a big three-pointer to take a 40-36 lead. 

But after this the CMU offense went cold, letting the Golden Grizzlies end the third quarter on a 10-4 run, putting them back up 46-44 going into the fourth quarter. 

Norris came alive in the fourth scoring nine points in the quarter. 

Ultimately, Oakland was able to knock down key three-point shots to prevent the Chippewas from crawling back into the game. Especially, Oakland’s Raquel Ferrer-Bernad, who hit a clutch three to bring their lead back to eight and forced CMU to call a timeout.

The Chippewas would not be able to come back after that and lost the game 71-60.

“Rochelle is an impact player, that’s the reason why she started the game,” said Oesterle. "But she got two quick fouls right away. It was hard to get her in and keep her out there till the end of the game, but she’s a big focus for us to give her the ball at the start of the game. We just got to be able to run the high low with her and look for her skips and get her the basketball because she’s two points when she gets the ball."

The Chippewas struggled all game with free throws, turnovers, and fouls. In the second half the Chippewas went 6-14 from the line. CMU had 22 turnovers, letting Oakland score 22 points off its turnovers. The Chippewas also dealt with foul trouble as Smith fouled out late and had four other players end the game with 4 personal fouls. In all, they had 31 personal fouls.

“That was the two things we said that could beat us were us fouling because Oakland played Akron, the last game and they had 31 free throw attempts, and we gave them 33,” said Oesterle. "And that’s one thing that we talked about being disciplined defensively and we weren’t tonight. Just being able to contain without going for steals or putting us out of position. I mean 22 turnovers we need to clean that up for sure."

The Chippewas will look for their first win on the season Wednesday as they travel to Terra Haute, Indiana to play Indiana State at 6 p.m.