MOUNT PLEASANT - Central Michigan displayed its comfort and confidence inside McGuirk Arena Friday night, defeating South Dakota State in its first home game of the season, 88-62.
The Chippewas (2-2) led from start to finish, opening the game on 14-0 run that included a pair of triples from sophomore Kerby Tamm, who was making her first start of the season, and two-straight buckets by sophomore Crystal Bradford. The Jackrabbits (3-3) finally got on the board with a free throw at the 13:55 mark and scored their first field goal 50 seconds later, but the Maroon and Gold promptly went on a 9-0 run that was culminated with a fast break jumper by senior Jalisa Oliver to give them a 23-5 lead with 9:04 to play in the first half.
"I was very pleased with the way we played," head coach Sue Guevara said. "We played a much better brand of team basketball on both ends of the floor. We started the game much better than all three games previous to this one. Our defense did its job for the most part, forcing three or four shot clock violations. We played a very efficient basketball game."
The Jackrabbits finally heated up and began to pull back into the game on an onslaught of treys following the CMU run, but junior sharp shooter Niki DiGuilio got just as hot, hitting three straight three-point attempts of her own to keep the Chippewas' lead at double digits, 36-24.
SDSU was able to pull it within 10 on a layup by Megan Waytashek with 45 seconds left in the first half, but freshman guard Da'Jourie Turner slashed her way to the basket for a layup after an offensive rebound by Bradford to send the Chippewas to the break with a 12 point lead, 40-28.
CMU finished the first half shooting a blistering 53 percent (16-for-30) from the floor, including a 54.5 percent clip (6-for-11) from behind the arc, and continued hot shooting into the second half.
Tamm opened up the second half with her fourth three of the game 43 seconds into the second half to give the Chippewas a 43-28 lead, but the Jackrabbits were able to chip away and cut their deficit to single digits, 45-36, on a three by Tara Heiser with 16:52 to play.
Another CMU run put the game back out of reach however, as DiGuilio hit a pair of free throws and Bradford hit back-to-back threes as an 8-0 run extended the lead to 53-36. The Chippewas maintained their significant advantage and ultimately saw Tamm hit her fifth three of the game and Olive knock down a deep triple with 15 seconds left for the final 88-62 score.
Despite the hot shooting from the outside, it was the Chippewas' 36-14 advantage in the paint and 41-29 advantage on the boards that proved to be key. The Chippewas also scored 32 points off 24 SDSU turnovers and dished out 17 assists on their 33 field goals.
Bradford led the Chippewas with 21 points, while sophomore Taylor Johnson quietly filled the stat sheet with 12 points, 12 rebounds and four steals, while also drawing four charges on the defensive side of the ball.
Sophomore Jessica Green continued her hot start to the season with 13 points and six assists, while DiGuilio and Tamm scored 16 and 15 to give CMU five players in double digits. Waytashek led the Jackrabbits with 12 points, while Heiser had 10.
The Chippewas continue their home stand next Thursday with their much-anticipated matchup versus 2012 NCAA Runner-Up No. 5 Notre Dame. CMU has defeated each of the last two ranked opponents to visit Mount Pleasant, including No. 12 Purdue last season. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.