Milwaukee, Wis. – A poor night at the free throw line proved costly for Central Michigan Thursday as the Chippewas fell to Marquette, 84-72.
The Chippewas (1-2) shot just 45.2 percent (14-for-31) from the line and were unable to convert during a key stretch in the second half in suffering their second-straight loss.
“This is a very disappointing loss,” head coach Sue Guevara said. “We lost this game on the free throw line. When you go 14-for-31, you aren’t going to win very many ball games. We made some bad decisions down the stretch and it hurt us.”
Junior Crystal Bradford poured in 22 points and pulled down 14 rebounds for her first double-double of the season, while fellow junior Jas’Mine Bracey scored 11 and had 11 boards for her second double-double of the season.
CMU trailed by just three, 41-38, following a jumper by Bradford with 16:41 to play, but the Golden Eagles (4-0) went on an 8-0 run over the next 2:02 to take a 49-38 lead and force a CMU timeout.
A triple by senior Taylor Johnson cut into the deficit at the 9:59 mark and the Chippewas were able to cut the lead to five, 58-53, on a layup by Johnson with 8:26 to play.
After a layup by Marquette’s Katherine Plouffe put the Golden Eagles in front by seven, 60-53, with 8:16 to play, the Chippewas held MU without a field goal for the next 3:12. However, CMU was unable to capitalize on its defensive stops and Marquette’s foul trouble, making just 3-of-12 attempts from the free throw line during the stretch.
Despite the Chippewas’ inability to convert at the stripe, they were still able to cut the lead to four, 62-58, when Bradford pulled down one of her nine offensive rebounds and scored a put back. Another jumper by Bradford kept the deficit at four, 64-60, but five straight points by Cristina Bigica put the Golden Eagles back in the driver’s seat.
Johnson knocked down her second three with 3:25 to play to cut the lead back to six, but the Chippewas were never able to get any closer as Marquette hit 13-of-15 free throws over the final 3:01 of play.
Katie Young led three Golden Eagles with 28 points, while Plouffe had 21 and Bigica 13.
CMU is back in action next Thursday when it plays the first of three games at the Paradise Jam versus Kansas. The Chippewas will also take on No. 2 Duke and Xavier in the three-day tournament Nov. 28-30.