Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
Crystal Bradford scored 25 points and had a season-high 16 rebounds and seven assists, but CMU fell at South Dakota State Sunday afternoon, 87-82.
CMU Falls at South Dakota State Despite Bradford's Big Day, 87-82

Brookings, S.D. - Junior Crystal Bradford scored 25 points and pulled down 16 rebounds for her third double-double of the season, but a large discrepancy at the free throw line allowed South Dakota State to edge Central Michigan inside Frost Arena Sunday afternoon, 87-82. 

The Jackrabbits (8-4) went 21-for-26 from the free throw line in the contest, while the Chippewas attempted just seven shots from the charity stripe, making just three. 

The 18-point swing in points at the line allowed the Jackrabbits to hold off the Chippewas (3-5), despite hot shooting from the Maroon and Gold in the second half. 

Trailing by four, 46-42, with 16:49 to play, the Chippewas went on a 10-3 run behind the play of Bradford. The junior sparked the run with a three on an assist from junior Jessica Green before returning the favor on the Chippewas' next possession, finding Green on a backdoor cut for a 47-46 lead. A steal and coast-to-coast layup by Bradford made it a 7-0 run and after the Jackrabbits evened things up, 49-49, senior Niki DiGuilio gave the Chippewas their final lead of the game on a three with 14:04 to play, 52-49. 

The Jackrabbits promptly went on a 11-2 run of their own over the next 2:04 of the contest, claiming a 60-54 lead with 12:00 to play on a three-point play by Kerri young. DiGuilio hit back-to-back triples for the Chippewas to pull them back within a pair, 64-62, but a 13-4 run by SDSU gave the home squad a 77-66 lead with 4:59 to play. 

CMU attempted to spark another comeback much like its 94-91 win over Dayton on Dec. 5, pulling within seven on a three by junior Kerby Tamm with 4:10 to play, 79-72. 

A great defensive possession by Bradford in which she blocked two shots and drew an offensive foul gave CMU the ball back and Green cut the deficit to five on a layup with 2:43 to play, 79-74. 

The Chippewas traded a jumper for a Tamm three with 2:17 to go and again pulled within four on a layup by junior Jas'Mine Bracey with 1:08 to play, but could not capitalize after yet another defensive stop. 

Young missed a layup on the other end and Bradford pulled down her 16th rebound of the game, but DiGuilio was unable to convert a layup for CMU and the Jackrabbits iced the game with shots at the charity stripe. 

In addition to Bradford's big day, Green scored a season-high 21 points and dished out five assists. DiGuilio and Tamm both scored in double figures with 15 and 11 points respectively, while Bracey just missed a double double with eight points and 12 rebounds. 

CMU is back in action on Wednesday, Dec. 18 when it hosts its annual 'Hoops for Hunger' contest versus Prairie View A&M at noon. The game will be played in front of local students from across the mid-MIchigan area that have raised money and food to donate to local food shelters.