CMU men's basketball wins regular season finale in overtime


Graduate guard Brian Taylor, left, reaches for a rebound during a game against Eastern Michigan on Friday, Mar. 8 in McGuirk Arena. Taylor ended his senior night game with a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 22 rebounds. (Marie Underwood | CM-Life)

With a little over a minute to play Central Michigan men’s basketball trailed Eastern Michigan by three on Friday. That was before sophomore guard Paul McMillan IV hit a three, tying the game at 55.

The game went to overtime and McMillan IV would score eight of the 10 Chippewa points in the extended period leading them to a 65-62 victory.

With the win, CMU finishes the season at 18-13 overall and 12-6 in Mid-American Conference play. The record was good enough for a fourth-place finish after being predicted to finish last in the preseason.

“I told the guys I’m proud of them,” head coach Tony Barbee said. “To have that kind of conference season with as much adversity as we had. Being the injuries, that's a heck of an accomplishment for this group.”

McMillan IV filled in for junior point guard Anthony Pritchard who missed the game to rest for the MAC tournament. McMillan finished with a game high 25 points. It also ties his previous career high, while he also added nine rebounds and six assists.

“You’re missing… Pritch (Anthony Pritchard) who’s gotta be first team all-league,” Barbee said. “I think he’s the best point guard in the league…but you know, Paul stepped up (and) did what he does.”

Before the game CMU honored graduate guard Brian Taylor who was playing in his last game at McGuirk Arena. His final game did not disappoint as he had 14 points but added 22 rebounds which ranks top five in CMU’s history for rebounds in a game.

“I called this place home for three years,” Taylor said. “They welcomed me with open arms, I always felt a part of the Chippewa family.”

“Proud of Brian Taylor being able to stick with me and have the patience to stick through the rebuild,” Barbee said. “Other guys didn’t and ran, but Brian got the reward of sticking around and helped me lay this foundation. Proud of Brian to go out on that note.”

Through the first 10 minutes of Friday’s action it looked like it was going to be all CMU as it built a 24-8 lead, thanks to a flurry of three pointers.

Quickly that offensive magic faded away as the Chippewas went scoreless for eight minutes. That allowed EMU to claw its way back into the game bringing it to as close as five points with the score 24-19.

The teams traded buckets, with CMU heading into halftime with a six-point advantage. Coming out of the half the Eagles came out firing, going on a 7-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 30-29.

After some back and forth by both teams, EMU would go on a 9-2 run opening up an 11-point lead looking like it was running away with the game, with only eight minutes to play.

But in those eight minutes the Eagles offense went cold, allowing the Chippewas to fight their way back in the game, outscoring EMU 19-8 in that time frame.

In overtime EMU scored on its opening possession but would not score again until 16 seconds remaining in the game. In that time CMU built a lead and could allow a few garbage time baskets.

Central Michigan will now have a few days of rest before heading to Cleveland, Ohio where it will take on Bowling Green in the first round of the MAC tournament. 

The game will take place 30 minutes after the opening game which is slated to begin at 11 a.m.

“Yes, I do,” Taylor said when asked if he believes if CMU can win the MAC tournament. “With the way that we play, we play super hard, we play defensively, we play for each other, and anything can happen.”