CMU rallies late, secures second consecutive road win in Bowling Green matchup

Freshman guard Reggie Bass dribbles the ball during the game against Ball State on Tuesday, Feb. 7 in McGuirk Arena. Bass was the third highest scorer for the Chippewas with 9 points.

Outscoring Bowling Green, 19-4 in the final four minutes Central Michigan basketball secured its second consecutive road game win, 77-74 over the Falcons.

On Tuesday night, the Chippewas (10-16, 5-8) overtook the Falcons (10-16, 4-9) in the Mid-American Conference standings for eighth place - the last spot in the projected conference tournament bracket. 

However, leading up to the end-of-game drama was a run that propelled the Chippewas back into the game after some second-half lulls in scoring. CMU fought back from a 70-60 deficit and came within a point as the scoreboard read 71-70 with just over two minutes remaining.

“In conference play when you’re on the road, find a way,” head coach Tony Barbee said. “Don’t care how it is, it ain’t gotta be pretty. And we found a way.”

Leading the way in the CMU comeback effort was freshman guard Reggie Bass. Over the final five minutes of the game, he scored 12 points and secured important free throws to keep the game out of the Falcons reach. 

Bass extended his point tally to career high 25 along with seven assists and six rebounds. 

“He played with maturity (tonight) for 40 minutes,” Barbee said. “If you noticed in the Miami (Ohio) game, he was out for a long stretch of time because he made a mistake and didn’t want to take responsibility for it … today, he had some mistakes. And I rode him, got on him and he responded. He didn’t pout, he didn’t sulk. He said ‘my bad coach, I got you.’ So (then) I move on and he moves on and you see what kind of player he can be when his mind is in the right space.”

Barbee referenced a theme of “finding a way to win” during road conference games, which the Chippewas have struggled to do throughout the season. But despite being down double-digits with less than five minutes to go, the young CMU roster managed to keep its composure. 

Senior guard Brian Taylor has been one of the few veteran presences that have helped guide this team through moments of adversity. He finished the game without subbing out once in a 14 point performance. He also contributed elsewhere in the stat sheet with six assists and five rebounds while only committing a pair of turnovers and a single foul. 

“I keep putting it right on Brian (Taylor),” Barbee said. “For us to be any good, (Taylor) gotta go get me 30 and 10. I told him, I said ‘Brian, when we (get) down, I am running every play for you and you will not pass this ball. Don’t even think about it.’ And he hit two huge threes.”

The two teams were narrowly separated in many statistical categories, however CMU scored nearly half of all of its points inside the paint with 34 compared to Bowling Green’s 24. 

The Chippewas also led the way in team assists and blocks while trailing the Falcons in terms of rebounds and steals. 

For Bowling Green, sophomore guard Kaden Matheny led the team in scoring with 19 points on an 8-for-14 shooting. 

CMU will return to Mount Pleasant - one of three remaining home games on the Chippewas’ schedule - on Saturday as it welcomes Ohio University, the fifth-ranked in the MAC standings. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.