CMU men's basketball season ends in MAC tournament to BGSU

Bowling Green's senior forward Rashaun Agee, center, goes up for a shot against Central Michigan's graduate guard Brian Taylor, left, and junior forward Markus Harding, right, during game two of the MAC Tournament against Bowling Green on Thursday, Mar. 14 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. CMU fell to BGSU with a score of 66-56. (Marie Underwood | CM-Life)

Central Michigan men’s basketball season ended on Thursday, in a 66-56 defeat against Bowling Green. 

CMU entered the Mid-American Conference tournament as the fourth seed but fell to BGSU in the third meeting between the two teams this season. 

The Chippewas finish the season with an overall record of 18-14.

“Difficult ending to the conference tournament here for us,” head coach Tony Barbee said. “But (I’m) proud of my team as we continue to build the CMU basketball program back. Heck of a turnaround in year three. (I'm) proud of the accomplishments that this team made.”

The final score doesn’t indicate how close the game was as throughout the game there were 10 times the score was tied and nine different lead changes. 

But overall, the game was decided by physicality down the stretch. CMU lost the rebound battle 51-28, also BGSU was able to get to the free throw line 19 times compared to the Chippewas six.

“I don’t want to talk about offense,” junior guard Derrick Butler said. “I think we should focus on how we weren’t the tougher team. We just got out toughed.”

Butler who was the leading scorer for CMU, finished the game with 14 points with 10 of those coming in the first half. He was also 3-of-5 from three-point range.

Graduate guard Brian Taylor finished out his career for Central Michigan with 13 points and 10 rebounds which gave him his eighth double-double of the season.

“Proud of Brian Taylor for the finish he had to an outstanding college career,” Barbee said. “Wish we could have extended it more for him at this conference tournament because we're going to miss him because he did so much for this program.”

“It meant a lot,” Taylor said on his last game as a Chippewa. “I tried to do my best to play hard and just do what coach wanted me to do, I was just trying my best to fight and claw to get that win, but I just didn’t have it.”

In the game, CMU got off to a quick start as it led 8-2 four minutes into the game. But the next four minutes belonged to the Falcons going on an 8-2 run of their own tying the game at 10.

Throughout the remainder of the half both teams would trade buckets, as well as a three-minute span that featured zero points by either team. 

With a one-point lead and less than six seconds in the half it looked like BGSU would head into the half ahead 26-25, until Taylor hit a three at the buzzer giving CMU a two-point advantage at the break.

The second half was much like the first half as both teams traded buckets taking small leads but unable to pull away. CMU’s largest second half lead was four points, and it happened multiple times.

In the final seven minutes, it turned into the Trey Thomas show as the senior guard on BGSU scored 17 points in the time frame. He also sealed the deal on the game with 11-straight points in the final two minutes.

CMU’s season should be nothing to be disappointed with as the Chippewas were projected to finish last in the MAC in the preseason and finished fourth overall.

On Wednesday, Tony Barbee was awarded with MAC Coach of the Year honors, while junior guard Anthony Pritchard was named MAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors for his performance.

Pritchard was also named to the All-MAC first team, while Brian Taylor was named to the All-MAC third team for his season performance.

"We want to build off it (this season)," Barbee said. "That's the goal. That's the plan. Obviously, the state of college basketball has made it harder to have continuity. You know, we all look at it."