MOUNT PLEASANT - Junior Taylor Johnson scored a career-high 25 points and Central Michigan held Northern Illinois to 19 second-half points in an impressive 83-56 win Saturday afternoon inside McGuirk Arena.
The Chippewas (10-7) improved to 4-0 for the first time since the 1987-88 season and will look for their best MAC start since that same year when they travel to Athens, Ohio next Wednesday for a matchup versus the Ohio Bobcats.
After the Huskies (5-12, 0-4 MAC) shot a blistering 61.5 percent (16-for-26) in the first 20 minutes, Guevara gave her team a message in the locker room that clearly sank in as the Chippewas held NIU to just 28.6 percent (8-for-28) and 19 points over the final 20 minutes.
"I was very stubborn in the first half," Guevara said. "We changed defenses in the second half and that's the best our defense has looked for us all year. The goal was to hold them to 56 points and I had a very clear message at halftime to our team and I'm glad we responded."
The Chippewas led 41-37 at the break behind 12 points from Johnson on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting effort from the floor, but were able to extend the lead in the second half by limiting the Huskies to just nine points in the first 10:52 of the second half.
A 23-9 run over the stretch was started on a three by sophomore Jessica Green, and a pair of free throws by senior Brandie Baker at the 12:52 mark pushed the lead to double digits, 55-44. The Chippewas eventually led by 18 after a three by Johnson with 9:27 to play, and the junior knocked down her fifth three of the contest with 6:23 to play to increase the advantage to 72-48.
While Johnson was lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 9-of-10 shooting from the field, sophomore Crystal Bradford was continuing her dynamic display of talent by filling the box score for the fourth consecutive contest.
Bradford was a key component behind the first-half lead, playing 17 minutes in the first period to lead the team with nine points, seven rebounds and five assists. The sophomore assured her third consecutive double-double in a series of plays in the second half by pulling down her 10th rebound of the game before finishing in traffic on the other end and drawing a foul for her 14th double-digit scoring effort of the season.
Just as impressive was Bradford's ability to find her teammates however, as she tied her career high of eight assists to go along with her 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Three other players scored in double figures for the Chippewas as Green finished with 11 and senior Jessica Schroll and Baker each had 10.
CMU committed a season-low seven turnovers while forcing NIU into 15 and holding a 17-6 advantage on points off turnovers in the contest. Saturday marked the first time this season that the Chippewas committed under 10 turnovers.
The 1987-88 Central Michigan team started 6-0 in MAC play.
The Chippewas scored over 70 points for the eighth straight game and the 14th time this season.
CMU extended its winning streak to four games Saturday, marking the longest winning streak of the season.
Sophomore Crystal Bradford recorded her third-straight double-double, seventh of the season and 18th of her career with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Bradford also tied her career high of eight assists. She last accomplished the feat versus Bowling Green in last season's MAC Tournament semifinal on March 9.
Junior Taylor Johnson finished with a career-high 25 points, marking her eighth double-digit scoring effort of the season and her first since January 2 versus Marquette.
Brandie Baker finished the contest with 10 points, moving into sole possession of 15th place in program history. She now has 1,110 career points.
Sophomore Jessica Green scored in double digits for the 12th game this season and 31st time in her career, finishing with 11 points.
The Chippewas improved to 8-1 this season when leading at the half.
CMU held its opponent under 60 points for the third-straight game. The Chippewas have won by an average of 16.25 points during their four-game winning streak.
The league leader in three-point field goals made per game, CMU finished 10-for-21 from behind the arc, improving its record to 5-0 this season when hitting 10-plus treys.