CMU men's basketball loses second straight by double digits, falls in Toledo

Head coach Tony Barbee talks to players during a game against Michigan on Thursday, Dec. 29 at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor. "What I'm most proud of is that we were finally able to play to our identity; we haven't done that until tonight," Coach Barbee said.

Outshot, outrebounded and simply outwilled, Central Michigan men’s basketball was outscored by 28 points in the first 20 minutes of the game leading to an 84-59 defeat in Toledo at the hands of the Rockets.

Saturday night’s loss marked the fourth time in the last five games that CMU’s defense has given up 80+ points on top of a double-digit losing margin.

The Chippewas (8-15, 3-7) allowed the Rockets (17-6, 8-2) to make exactly 50% of their field goal attempts, while sending Toledo players to the line for 16 total attempts, of which they made 14. 

CMU converted a higher percentage of field goals than Toledo, having made 52.8% of its 36 attempts. However, it was outshot by the Rockets 52-36, leading to many more scoring chances for Toledo.

The Chippewas failed to convert on three-point shots during the first half, while Toledo made five of its 12 long-range attempts. Overall, CMU only made four shots from three while the Rockets finished shooting just over 40% on 22 attempts.

Senior guard Brian Taylor and freshman guard Max Majerle were the only Chippewas to convert on long-range attempts, with each making two of their four attempts.

Taylor led CMU in both scoring and rebounding, with 20 and 7. He also blocked a shot and dished out an assist while committing three turnovers. Bass followed behind Taylor with 10 points and a team-leading six assists, along with five turnovers of his own.

Turnovers continue to be a team-wide issue, as the Chippewas gave the ball up 19 times, 11 of which came in the first half alone. CMU could not overcome the stark difference in the turnover margin, as Toledo only committed seven by the game’s end.

The halftime break breathed life into the Chippewas, as they outscored the Rockets 31-26 in the final 20 and shot 10-for 13 from the field. However, with the hole CMU dug itself in the prior period, the late-game heroics proved inconsequential, as it trailed by a game-high 33 points with 15:32 remaining in the contest.

From that moment on, the Chippewas outscored Toledo 32-25 behind 8-for-11 shooting and 12 points from Taylor, who has taken on a leadership role throughout the season as one of the few holdovers from last year’s team.

CMU missed the presence of junior guard Jesse Zarzuela, who was inactive tonight and has also taken on the bulk of the scoring and playmaking load in a season that has featured many young players seeing extended runs due to injuries. 

The Chippewas were outdone by the Rockets in many statistical categories, in fast-break points Toledo held a 21-4 advantage. This was largely driven by the nine steals the Rockets collected, while CMU only managed to swipe four of its own.

Three different members of Toledo registered multiple steals in sophomore guard Ra’Heim Moss (2) and senior forwards Setric Millner Jr. (2) and JT Shumate (3).

Elsewhere, Millner and junior guard RayJ Dennis led the Rockets with 18 points apiece. Dennis also registered a game-high eight assists, while Millner found his way to the line converting nine of his 10 attempts on the night. Shumate chipped in 12 of his own while pulling down six rebounds.

The Chippewas will return to Mount Pleasant on Tuesday to face off against Ball State (16-7, 7-3). The contest will mark the third game in a row where CMU will face a top-four seeded team in the Mid-American Conference. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.