Courtesy: CMU Athletic Communications
CMU Suffers 59-54 Setback to Montana State
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Central Michigan couldn’t maintain a double digit halftime lead against Montana State on Friday night, falling to the Bobcats, 59-54, in McGuirk Arena. With the loss, CMU drops to 1-1 in its home tournament and 2-3 overall for the season.

Braylon Rayson was CMU’s leading scorer, posting 15 points in 20 minutes of playing time. The freshman guard scored 18 on Thursday night in the win over Austin Peay, giving him a total of 33 for the tournament.

Fellow freshman guard Josh Kozinski scored nine in his most extensive action of the season. Sophomore guard Chris Fowler added nine points and four assists while sophomore forward John Simons collected a team-high eight rebounds, all on the defensive end.

Montana State (1-3) went up 2-0 just over 30 seconds into the game on a Paul Egwuonwu jumper, which would turn out to be its only lead of the first half, as CMU took control from that point on. Up 8-5, CMU embarked on a 10-0 run, sparked by two three-pointers from Kozinski, to push its advantage to a game-high 13 at the 11:41 mark.

The Bobcats fought their way back into the game and pulled to within five at 21-16, but the Chippewas were able to increase their lead back to 10 from the free throw line. Sophomore guard Rayshawn Simmons hit two and,  following a flagrant and technical foul call on MSU, Fowler drained one and sophomore forward Blake Hibbitts knocked down two. Kozinski then dropped in his third three-pointer of the half at the buzzer and CMU went to the break ahead by a count of 29-18.

Montana State heated up quickly in the second half, scoring the first five points and then increased the run to 17-4 when it took the lead at 35-33 with a Terrell Brown three-pointer with 14:02 remaining. CMU countered, getting a three by Simons, a Rayson lay-up and two free throws by sophomore guard Austin Keel to retake the lead at 40-38.

The Bobcats outscored the Chippewas 12-2 over the next eight-plus minutes and stake their largest lead of the game at 50-42 with 3:25 left in the game.

CMU was able to get as close as three points down the stretch with lay-ups by Fowler and Rayson but MSU was able to seal the win from the free throw line.

The Chippewas were hampered by 28 percent shooting in the second half, including seven percent from long range (1-of-13). Foul shooting kept CMU in the game, as the team made 14 of its 18 (77%) attempts.

“I credit (Montana State) for being able to disrupt us; to be able to take the air out of the ball and really get the flow of the game more towards their liking,’” said CMU head coach Keno Davis. “We didn’t respond as well as we would have liked, but I think our mistakes aren’t as much of a lack of effort as our players might think. Sometimes when the flow of the game isn’t what you’d like, it’s tough to learn, as a young man, how to be able to pick yourself up when the flow of the game isn’t there; with the fast breaking style that we’re really accustomed to. So, we’ll take it as a learning process and see if we can learn from it.”’

MSU’s Brown came off the bench to lead all scorers with 23 points. Egwuonwu notched a double-double, totaling 13 points and 13 rebounds.

The Chippewas will be back in action on Saturday night following football’s home match-up with UMass when they take on Cal State Northridge (3-2) at 7:30 p.m. at McGuirk Arena. The Matadors are 2-0 in tourney play, defeating Montana State on Thursday and Austin Peay in the Friday early game.  

Central Michigan men’s basketball is on Twitter. Follow head coach Keno Davis (@CoachKenoDavis) and the program’s official Twitter account (@CMUMensBBall) to get insider news and information and team updates. The Chippewas are also on Facebook at