MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Junior Crystal Bradford hit a fall-away game-winning three with 0.2 seconds to cap a record-breaking 34-point performance and give Central Michigan a victory over Dayton Thursday night, 94-91.
After senior Taylor Johnson hit a three off the glass with 5.7 seconds to tie the game at 91 apiece, the Flyers (2-3) threw the ensuing inbound pass right into her arms at mid court. Bradford took a pass from Johnson, took two dribbles to her left and knocked down the game winner as she fell to the ground with 0.2 seconds left on the clock.
“This is a big moment for me,” Bradford said. “We feed off our fans' energy. I didn’t have much left, but the crowd didn’t give up on us and we did not give up on ourselves. This one ranks pretty high.”
“It's great to be home,” head coach Sue Guevara said. “This was a very exciting basketball game and I hope its one that entices our fans to come back and watch us play. Big players make big plays. You saw Crystal make a big, fat shot and you saw Taylor Johnson hit another big, fat shot.”
Before Bradford could hit her game-winning shot, the Chippewas (3-4) had to erase a late nine-point deficit after Jodie Cornelie gave the Flyers an 84-75 lead with 3:56 to play.
Junior Jas'Mine Bracey scored four-straight points for the Chippewas to pull them within five, 84-79, with 3:19 to play, but Cassie Sant extended the deficit back to seven, 86-79 with a layup with 2:23 remaining.
The Chippewas pulled within a pair, 87-85, on a perfectly executed pick and roll from junior Kerby Tamm to Johnson, but a layup by Sant and subsequent illegal screen call on Tamm forced the Chippewas to extend the game with fouls.
Amber Deane converted her first two attempts with 27 seconds left to extend Dayton’s lead to six, 91-85, but Bradford brought the ball up the court and hit a three from the left wing with 21 seconds remaining and CMU took a timeout.
Again Deane went to the line with Dayton up three, 91-88, but was unable to convert either attempt, giving the Chippewas a chance. Bradford faced a double team on the next possession and found Johnson, who hit a bank-shot three-point attempt from the left wing to tie the game, setting up the Bradford's heroics.
Bradford’s 34 points were a McGuirk Arena record and were accompanied by 12 rebounds for her 26th career double-double. She finished the night 13-of-20 from the field, including 5-of-8 from behind the arc. Bracey finished the evening with 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, while Tamm and senior Niki DiGuilio each hit four three-point field goals for 12 points.
The Maroon and Gold shot 14-for-34 from behind the arc in the contest, including 9-for-21 in the first half to grab a 46-40 lead.
CMU returns to action on Sunday, Dec. 15 when it travels to South Dakota State for a 2 p.m. contest.