CMU men's basketball drops crucial final game at Western Michigan


CMU's Men's basketball team huddles during a game against Alma on Saturday, Dec. 3 in McGuirk Arena.

Despite going on a 7-0 run to start the game, Central Michigan men’s basketball was unable to hold off Western Michigan, knocking itself out of the Mid-American Conference tournament with a score of 81-65 on Friday in Kalamazoo.

"We have trouble putting points up on the board," head coach Tony Barbee said. "We let our lack of offense lead to a lack of defense. We stopped getting back in transition and let the other team get going." 

The Chippewas finished the season with a record of 10-21 overall and 6-12 in MAC play. The Broncos end their season with a record of 8-23 overall and 4-14 in MAC play.

"Kind of a broken record type of thing," Barbee said. "Since the injury to Boopie (Kevin Miller) and Jesse (Zarzuela), we just don't have that outside. You don't have the playmaking, the scoring, the creating guards that we had prior to the injuries. We created offense for the other guys who can't create offense for themselves."

Sophomore center Markus Harding led CMU with 18 points. 

The Chippewas opened the game with 7-0 lead within the first four minutes of the game as WMU struggled to get on the board. Finally finding its footing, WMU took its first lead of the game with a score of 15-13 going on an 8-0 run with 11:45 left in the first half. 

At the halfway point of the first half, freshman guard Reggie Bass netted a shot from beyond the arc followed by two free throws to regain the lead for the Chippewas with a score of 21-17. 

However, with less than five minutes remaining in the first half, the Broncos took advantage of CMU struggling under the basket as they went on a 6-1 run to take a 26-24 lead. 

A made layup from Harding followed by a foul put the Chippewas within one with 2:09 left in the first. 

As time was ticking in the first half, the lead bounced back and forth between the two teams, but a three-point shot from the Broncos put them ahead at the end of the half with a score of 31-29. 

Taking control of the second half quickly, the Broncos extended their lead to 37-29 within the first four minutes of the final half.

Finding their footing, the Chippewas went on a 6-0 run with back-to-back three-point jumpers from senior guard Brain Taylor and Harding to cut the lead to three with a score of 45-42 with 11:59 left in the game. 

Unphased by the CMU run, WMU bounced back with a 7-0 run of its own, extending its lead to 11 with 8:05 left in the final half with a score of 59-48. 

Back-to-back three-point shots from senior Marc Garland sparked momentum for the Chippewas, cutting the lead to four with seven minutes left in the game. 

"He was a late addition to the roster," Barbee said. "And he was a pleasant surprise, a guy who you know was just going to school at CMU playing over in the REC center and wanted to join the team ... we were fortunate enough to have him for the three quarters of the year that we did."

Providing trouble for CMU on both sides of the court, Norman Hastings made back-to-back baskets on top of blocking a shot to give the Broncos its largest lead of the game at 15 due to a 10-0 run. With less than five minutes to play, WMU led 69-54. 

Hastings was third in points and had a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds he was behind Lamar Norman with 18 and Trey Maddox with a game leading 22 points. 

Despite going on a small run at the end of the game, CMU was unable to create momentum, falling to the Broncos. 

With today's loss knocking the Chippewas out of the MAC tournament and ending their season, Barbee is confident in the next steps for next season. 

"We obviously took steps which is a positive thing," Barbee said "We won more games than we won the first year and had the win at Michigan which is a big step in the program. So, there's some positive things you've got. You got some key freshman like Reggie Bass who got necessary experience this year having to do it under fire. He had a role that he wasn't meant to play this season, but it sped up his learning curve. The main thing as we start the offseason is to re-recruit our current roster ... then go to continue to fill out the open scholarships that we do have already to put together a roster that can take that step in the MAC."