MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Central Michigan closed the second half on a 12-1 run, extended the run to 17-1 to take the lead in overtime and held off a late rally to remain perfect in Mid-American Conference play with a thrilling victory over MAC East leader Bowling Green Saturday, 82-79.
The Chippewas (9-8, 5-0 MAC) trailed by 11 with 3:01 to play, 69-58, but forced the Falcons (14-3, 4-1 MAC) into five turnovers during the 12-1 run to tie the game and send it to overtime.
A steal by junior Jessica Green and pair of free throws started the run before another steal by junior Crystal Bradford led to a layup by sophomore Da'Jourie Turner. CMU forced Jillian Halfhill into a turnover in the backcourt as the ball deflected off her out of bounds and Turner was fouled on the ensuing possession. Turner hit both free throws, allowing the Chippewas to once again set up their full-court press.
The Falcons were unable to get the ball inbounded and were forced into a five-second violation, giving the ball back to CMU down five, 69-64, with 1:52 to play. Green then pulled off a little trickery on the inbounds play, throwing the ball off Alexis Rogers’ back and laid it in with 1:50 to go to pull CMU within three, 69-66.
A block by Bradford on Deborah Hoekstra led to a fastbreak layup by Turner to pull CMU within a point, 69-68, and after Rogers split a pair of free throws at the line to put BGSU up two, 70-68, the Chippewas nearly won it in regulation.
Turner missed a contested layup on the Chippewas’ next possession, but Bradford pulled down an offensive rebound and kicked it out to DiGuilio for a wide open three. The ball rattled in and out of the basket, but Green was there for another offensive board and laid it in to tie the game, 70-70.
Jasmine Matthews drew a foul on a drive to the basket, but missed both free throws. Turner again drove to the basket, but her contested layup didn’t fall and the game went to overtime as Matthews was unable to get up a shot with the ball in her hands before regulation ended.
CMU opened up the overtime period by extending its' run to 17-1, scoring the first five points on a mid-range jumper by Green, layup by redshirt freshman Jewel Cotton and free throw by Bradford to take a 75-70 lead with 3:18 to play.
Halfhill hit a step back three to pull BGSU within two, 75-73, and Jill Stein scored down low to tie the game at the 2:38 mark. Stein drew a foul on Bradford on the bucket, but was unable to convert the three-point play.
Green and Miriam Justinger traded buckets to even the game at 77-77, but it was a pair of free throws by senior Niki DiGuilio with 57 seconds left that gave CMU the lead for good. Turner also hit a pair of freebies with 14 seconds left to extend the lead to four, but BGSU wasn’t quite done.
Rachel Konieczki, who entered the game after Halfhill was called for her fifth foul, hit a runner in the lane to pull BGSU within two, 81-79. Turner split a pair at the other end, giving BGSU a chance to tie the game, but Green came up with a steal on the Falcons’ inbound pass to secure the victory.
The Chippewas struggled to hang on to the ball in the first half, committing 14 turnovers while shooting just 34.5 percent (10-for-29) from the field. Bowling Green held an eight-point advantage at the break, 32-24.
Senior Taylor Johnson scored her 1,000th career point on a three-point field goal with 9:23 to play to cut the Chippewas’ deficit to four, 48-44, and CMU was down just three, 53-50 on another bucket by the senior with 7:19 to play.
Bowling Green reeled off 15-3 run over the net 3:36 of play however to build its’ lead back to double digits, forcing CMU to make the dramatic comeback.
Green scored a game-high 23 points to lead five CMU players in double figures, while Turner matched her career high with all 14 of her points coming in the second half and overtime.
Bradford filled the stat sheet for CMU, scoring 13 points and pulling down 15 rebounds for her sixth-straight double-double, while also finishing with eight steals, a program-record seven blocks and five assists.
Johnson scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and DiGuilio had three triples to score 11.
CMU committed just four turnovers in the second half and overtime, while forcing the Falcons into 27 turnovers, including 15 in the second half and overtime.
The Chippewas will look to remain perfect in conference play when they head to Kent State next Wednesday, January 22.