Head coach Keno Davis called his last timeout with 2:56 remaining and the Chippewas (3-2) down one, 50-49. Randall missed a lay-in coming out of the timeout but a bucket by Derrick Richardson on the next possession put the Chippewas up one. The Bengals (0-4) returned the favor just 12 seconds later to take a 52-51 lead with 1:31 left, but couldn't muster another shot.
Two offensive rebounds by the Chippewas kept the ball in front of their bench until Zach Saylor converted a free throw to knot the game at 52 with 1:09 left.
With the Bengals coming out of a timeout with 44 seconds remaining, Chris Fowler forced a turnover near the midcourt line with 35 seconds left.
Holding the ball for the last shot, Randall came around the left side of a screen set by Richardson at the top of the key and drained just his second field goal of the game.
Offensive rebounding was the difference for the Chippewas, who had an 18-2 edge and out-rebounded Idaho State 38-23, leading to 14 second-chance points and nine more attempts in the field.
"I like our team's effort," said Davis. "It shows you can be under-sized and still be a good rebounding team. It's about focus and effort and intensity to get after it."
Midway through the first half a 12-0 run by the Chippewas turned a seven-point deficit into their first lead of the game, 19-14 at the 9:02 mark. Back-to-back threes by Austin Keel and Blake Hibbitts extended the run to a 19-5 edge that created their largest lead of the half, 26-19, with 7:11 left. The shot by Hibbitts proved to be the final points of the half for Central, which was able to hang on to a 26-25 lead at the break.
Starting aggressively out of the locker room, a three-pointer by John Simons and two trips to the hole by Randall sparked a 7-0 run that eventually stretched to 11-2 in the first four minutes of the second half.
Idaho State was held to just two field goals in the first eight minutes of the second half but clawed its way back from a 10-point deficit by holding CMU without a field goal from 17:34 to 11:22. The Bengals came within one, 42-41, at 8:29, tied the game at the 4:34 mark at 48 all, and took a 50-49 lead at 3:16 for their first lead since 11:00 in the first half.
The Chippewas got 32 points from their bench, led by Hibbitts' 12 points and Mbaigoto's 11. Simons also reached double figures with 10 points. Stewart gave the Chippewas eight rebounds, including six on the offensive glass.
"This is a team you can be proud of," said Davis. "Although we haven't executed the way we would like to, haven't shot free throws the way we would like to, we certainly do play hard. Very rarely do I look at this team and say they're not giving it 100 percent. Good luck before a game picking the leading scorer or the guy who will make the clutch shots."
Additional Postgame Quotes
Davis, on playing the final 2:56 with no timeouts:
"Down the stretch the game was kind of getting away from us. Idaho State, to their credit, did some things that really bothered us that we didn't get a chance to prepare for without a day of practice. We needed some timeouts for that, we had a couple loose balls, then we get trapped right in front of our bench in the corner. I knew that one possession might mean the game. You might as well use the timeout if it will save you a possession or get you a score, whether it's with two minutes left or two seconds left. You'd better use it when you get that chance."
Kyle Randall on the game-winning shot:
"I'm glad my teammates and coaches had confidence in me to take the shot. All I was thinking was I've taken this shot a thousand times, just like in the gym. Take my time, stay calm, be confident and knock it down. I don't think I've hit a shot like that to win a game since high school."
On what the team has learned during this tournament:
"It is very hard for young teams to win close games. For us to come out here and go 2-1 and win some hard-fought games, it is a testament to the hard work, the growth and maturity that we have been showing. I think we can only go up from here as we still keep learning and improving."