Central Michigan basketball drops lopsided conference matchup with Northern Illinois

Freshman guard Max Majerle shoots during a game against Michigan on Thursday, Dec. 29 at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.

After a promising end to the non-conference schedule and a Mid-American Conference opener, Central Michigan men's basketball has now seen its momentum swing in the wrong direction.

The Chippewas (6-10, 1-2) took the trip to DeKalb on Tuesday and come back with their second consecutive loss. Northern Illinois (5-11, 1-2) picked up its first conference win with a final score of 73-54. 

A common theme for CMU in its recent performances is that the offensive attack continues to be hindered by poor shooting percentages both from inside and outside of the three-point line. Overall, the Chippewas shot 36.7% from the floor, 26.1% from three and 54.5% from the free-throw line.

In the first half, they shot 11-for-23 from the floor but went on to make just seven of their next 26 second half shot attempts. 

Senior guard Brian Taylor racked up his second consecutive double-double as he led CMU in the scoring column with 15, while adding 11 rebounds and two steals. Sophomore center Markus Harding was the only other Chippewa to score in double figures, registering 11 points to go along with five rebounds while committing six turnovers.

Alongside Taylor and Harding, CMU rolled out three freshmen in its starting lineup in guards Amani Drummond, Max Majerle and forward Ola Ajiboye. Drummond and Majerle chipped in six points apiece, while Ajiboye added three. 

When the final buzzer rang, the box score didn't necessarily represent the score in the terms of team stats. The Chippewas outrebounded the Huskies 38-34 while holding a +5 advantage on the offensive glass. CMU came up two assists shy of matching NIU’s tally and outscored its bench 13-7.  

The Chippewas struggled to keep the ball out of the hands of NIU as they committed 22 turnovers leading to 23 fast-break points for NIU.  

In the first 10 minutes of play, the lead changed hands frequently and the two teams were tied with 9:13 left in the half. However, the Huskies gained ground on the Chippewas in the rest of the half and CMU could not manage to hold a lead at any point for the remainder of the game.

NIU sophomore guard David Coit led the Huskies offensively with 23 points, two assists and three steals all while not committing a single turnover in 39 minutes of action. Nearly trailing him was fellow sophomore guard Zarique Nutter with 22 points and six rebounds.

The Chippewas return to action 4:30 p.m. on Saturday as they host University of Buffalo in McGuirk.