MOUNT PLEASANT - Sophomore Crystal Bradford knocked down five threes and scored 17 of her game-high 23 points in the second half as Central Michigan came from behind to defeat Green Bay in the annual Hoops for Hunger game Wednesday afternoon, 54-50.
Trailing by one, 50-49, with less than a minute to play, Bradford knocked down her biggest shot of the game when she took a pass from senior Brandie Baker on the right wing and hit her fifth trey of the contest with 34 seconds remaining to give CMU the lead for good, 52-50.
After Bradford's fourth block of the game prevented the Phoenix (5-2) from tying the game, Green Bay was given one more chance when Sarah Eichler pulled down a rebound on a missed free-throw attempt and went the length of the court only to miss a layup thanks in part to pressure by Baker defensively.
Sophomore Kerby Tamm knocked down a pair of free throws with nine seconds to secure the victory.
"We know we can compete with these teams, but finishing a game was very important today," head coach Sue Guevara said. "We didn't have any spurts when we played Green Bay the first time. We weren't great in the first half, but we didn't quit. We didn't stop fighting. There was no panic out of my players today."
Green Bay was able to build an eight-point halftime lead, 26-18, by knocking down its first seven shots of the contest and finishing the first 20 minutes with five treys. Bradford sparked the second-half comeback by scoring 14 points during a 21-5 CMU run to start the half.
Tamm knocked down a three on an assist from Bradford to get things rolling and Bradford made three-straight three-point attempts to give CMU its first lead of the game, 32-30. After an offensive rebound and putback by junior Taylor Johnson, Bradford gave the Chippewas their largest lead of the game, 39-31, with yet another three at the 11:02 mark.
"In the second half you saw the player Crystal Bradford can be," Guevara said. "She was able to attack. She hit the three and she was defending on the ball. She sustained it for twenty minutes in the second half which was key."
The Phoenix, who defeated CMU on Nov. 17 in Green Bay, responded by going on a 10-0 run of their own over the next three-plus minutes to reclaim the lead, 41-39. A back-and-forth battle then ensued between the two squads as the game was tied or saw the lead change six times over a five minute stretch before Bradford hit her game-winning three with 34 seconds to play.
CMU finished the second half shooting 60 percent (6-for-10) from behind the arc to aid the comeback while limiting the Phoenix to just one three in the second half.
Bradford finished the afternoon with her third double-double of the season, pulling down a season-high 13 rebounds, while Baker recorded season highs with 12 points and nine boards.
Adrian Ritchie led the Phoenix with 20 points and nine rebounds.
The Chippewas will now turn their focus to their final exams as they close the academic semester before returning to the court Dec. 17 versus Robert Morris inside McGuirk Arena.