MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Crystal Bradford' 24 points led four Central Michigan players in double figures but it was a pint-sized member of the team that inspired the Chippewas to an 86-51 rout of Buffalo during the annual Play4Kay game Sunday afternoon in McGuirk Arena.
The Chippewas (14-9, 8-2 Mid-American Conference) got back on the winning track after back-to-back road losses-their first two of the conference season-by winning their sixth straight home MAC game.
After taking a 38-25 lead into halftime against the Bulls (7-16, 5-5 MAC), the Chippewas poured on the offense, hitting their first seven attempts from the field and scoring on their first eight possessions to stretch their lead to 24 before the first media timeout.
The lead hovered around 20 when a three-pointer by the Bulls' Sloane Walton capped an 8-2 run and brought Buffalo within 16 at the 12:55 mark, but that's when the Chippewas' defense kicked into high gear. It was Buffalo's last field goal until the 2:39 mark–a span of 10:16 during which Buffalo was outscored 25-3 and found itself down as many as 38.
"It was nice to see our team click on both ends, offensively and defensively," said head coach Sue Guevara.
The Chippewas' run was fueled not only by 54 percent shooting in the second half, but also by a 52-30 advantage on the boards.
"For (Bradford), the same shots she took tonight that went in were the shots that didn't go for her against Ball State," said Guevara. "At the start of the game she missed the first couple but she let the game come to her. She didn't force things."
The Chippewas donned pink jerseys for their annual Play4Kay game, but instead of their own names on the backs, each jersey featured "K. Johns" in recognition of five-year old Katie Johns, a local girl adopted by the team this season during her fight with cancer.
"It was great to make her smile," said Bracey. "She deserves it."
"We wanted to come out and be strong for Katie because she is the strongest girl in the world," said Bradford.
The Chippewas improved to 8-2 in conference play for the first time since the 1987-88 season.
CMU improved to 8-0 this season when holding opponents below 60 points. CMU also improved to 7-0 this season when scoring at least 80 points.
Sophomore Crystal Bradford eclipses the 20-point plateau for the seventh time this season and 13th time in her career, finishing with 24.
Sophomore Jas'Mine Bracey scored a season-high 18 points, marking her 18th career double-digit scoring game. The 18 points also marked the most scored by the sophomore versus a MAC opponent during her career.
Senior Brandie Baker blocked two shots, moving into eighth place in career blocks with 70.
Sophomore Jessica Green scored in double digits for the 17th time this season and the 36th time in her career, finishing with 17 points.
CMU improved to 10-3 this season when four-plus players scored in double figures.
The Chippewas finished the afternoon with a 52-30 advantage in rebounding and improved to 11-2 this season when outrebounding their opponents.