TOLEDO, Ohio - Trey Zeigler became Central Michigan's all-time leading freshman scorer with a game-high 22 points in a 68-56 win at Toledo.
The Chippewas (10-19, 7-8 MAC) were able to hang on to a second-half lead by getting to the line and converting 23 of their 30 attempts (.767).
"We showed some growth tonight," said head coach Ernie Zeigler . "Before the game we talked about who was going to take the disappointment of how we finished (Saturday) and respond."
With a six-point advantage eight minutes into the second half, the Chippewas found themselves up 41-35 and being sent to foul line.
"That point in the game was eerily similar to the Ball State game when we were going to the foul line and couldn't make one," said Zeigler. "(Tonight) we started knocking them down which was huge for us."
The Chippewas hit 15-of-17 from the line the rest of the way to not only keep the Rockets (4-26, 1-14 MAC) at bay but stretch the lead to double-digits, where it stayed for the final 4:29. The home team never led but did tie the game at 28 with 16:30 to go.
Jalin Thomas poured in 17 points, including 14 in the second half to help the Chippewas maintain their lead. The conference's highest-scoring duo of Thomas and Zeigler combined for nearly 60 percent of the Chippewas' points and was joined in double figures by freshman Derek Jackson 's 14.
"The other key for us tonight was our defensive pressure on the ball, especially Derek's presence," Zeigler said. "We didn't get driven as much. We were able to level off some drives and finish possessions with rebounds."
Zeigler broke Dirk Dunbar's 1972-73 record of 471 points, finishing the game with a season total of 488 points and the nation's fourth-highest scoring average among Division I freshman, 16.8 points per game. He shot 9-for-13 tonight from the free throw line and 6-of-10 from the field.
The Chippewas won their second consecutive league road game and, coupled with Bowling Green's loss, pulled even with the Falcons in the Mid-American Conference West standings. The win secured at least the No. 9 seed for CMU.
The Chippewas close out the regular season at home Saturday against Western Michigan beginning at 2 p.m. The Broncos, who sit atop the MAC West standings, beat the Chippewas in overtime earlier this season.