MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Senior guard Kyle Randall scored a game-high 20 points in a 70-61 loss to Miami (Ohio) as Central Michigan dropped its fourth straight.
Randall scored six of his 20 points within one minute of play to give the Chippewas (9-12, 2-6 MAC) a 44-41 lead at the 10:50 mark in the second half for the first time in more than 20 minutes of play. The RedHawks (8-12, 3-5 MAC) regained the lead quickly though thanks to a pair of three-pointers by Allen Roberts.
Central Michigan was unable to stop Miami from pulling away despite two late buckets by freshman guard Chris Fowler. The Redhawks sealed the deal at the free throw line, knocking down all eight attempts in the final minute of play.
The Chippewas got off to a quick start, opening the game with a John Simons three-pointer. Miami set the tempo of the game early though with a quick answer from beyond the arc. The first half was a back-and-forth battle with five lead changes and two ties. Neither team could establish a firm lead until late in the first half when RedHawk forward Jon Harris knocked down a three to put Miami up six, 29-23. The RedHawks took a five-point lead into the locker room, 29-24.
Randall recorded 20-plus points for the eighth time this season, the third time doing so in back-to-back performances. Fowler accounted for eight points and seven assists, leaving him one shy of the program’s freshman Division I assist record of 109. Freshman Blake Hibbitts contributed four three pointers for 12 points.
Despite creating several second chance opportunities on the offensive glass, Central Michigan struggled to convert in the half court. The Chippewas shot 31 percent from the three-point line and 35 percent from the field. Miami (Ohio) was able to establish a presence in the post, outscoring Central Michigan 28-14 in the paint.
Central Michigan will be back in action at Akron on Tuesday, February 5. The Chippewas will look to end their four-game skid and knock off the undefeated Zips (17-4, 7-0) in conference play.
Chris Fowler's seven assists puts him within one of tying the program's Division I freshman record of 109 set by Derrick Richmond in 1985-86 (24 games). The program's all-time freshman record is 115 set by Dirk Dunbar in 1972-73 (26 games). Fowler entered the game ranked fourth in the league and sixth among the country's Division I freshmen at 5.1 assists per game.
Coach Keno Davis switched up the starting lineup for just the second time this season, giving Derrick Richardson the first start of his career in place of Austin Keel. The only other switch in the lineup this season came when Olivier Mbaigoto replaced an injured Zach Saylor in game seven.
Zach Saylor was credited with blocks on three consecutive possessions before the first media timeout. In the last three games, the Chippewas as a team have combined for three blocks. Saylor played 13 minutes off the bench tonight, the most since returning from his injury.
Blake Hibbitts knocked down four three-pointers in the first half, notching his third consecutive game with at least three threes. He was 4-of-7 in the first half and 0-for-4 in the second. After 12 points tonight, Hibbitts has averaged 14.3 points over the last three games.
The Chippewas converted seven field goals in the first half - six of them from behind the arc - and four of those came from Hibbitts. They tied a season-high 32 long range attempts (also 10-of-32 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff).
Tonight marked the sixth time this season CMU has hit at least 10 three-pointers.
Freshman John Simons' led the team in rebounding for the eighth time, this time with seven boards.
Tonight's attendance of 2,235 is the fourth time in the last five games over 2,000.
CMU Head Coach Keno Davis: "Early in the season when we weren't shooting particularly well we were still finding ways to win those close games, and we haven't been able to find those ways in conference play. But we will continue to work and I really like our attitude."
"We are a team that needs some pieces and needs to get bigger inside, so far our team to be able to stay even on the boards with a team like Miami, that gives us a chance to win."
"We've talked about a slim margin for error this year, and yet when we don't shoot well we're close. We are a basket or two away from winning several more of those games. We will stay focused and continue to work hard in practice and finish this off right."