Chippewas Fall to Rival Broncos, 81-68
Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
Jalin Thomas scored a team-high 25 points for the Chippewas on Saturday, playing the final home game of his career.

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MOUNT PLEASANT —
Jalin Thomas scored 25 points in his final game at McGuirk Arena, but Central Michigan fell to rival Western Michigan, 81-68, on Senior Day Saturday afternoon.

The Chippewas (10-20, 7-9 MAC) took an 11-9 lead on a three by senior Antonio Weary 4:53 into the game, but Western's Nate Hutcheson responded with a three of his own just 17 seconds later to reclaim the lead and the Broncos (19-11, 11-5 MAC) never looked back.

The Broncos continued to build on their lead throughout the first half, using dribble penetration and layups, and finished the first half shooting 53 percent (16-for-30) to gain a 40-31 advantage at the break.

"When a team is able to shoot 50 percent in both halves and a majority of those shots were layups off penetration or just straight drives, it makes it extremely difficult," head coach Ernie Zeigler said.

The Maroon and Gold battled back at the start the second half as junior Andre Coimbra scored five-straight points to pull the score within five, 51-46, but a tip-in by Matt Stainbrook and jumper by Mike Douglas extended the WMU lead back to 11, 59-48, with 8:25 to go.

Thomas knocked down the Chippewas' final three points of the game at the 1:12 mark to pull within nine, 77-68, but Hutcheson came up with a fastbreak 360-dunk to seal the game for the Broncos.

"We really, really struggled when we were rushed," said head coach Ernie Zeigler. "We were getting to spots and flipping stuff up and not being on balance. That definitely contributed to our low shooting percentage. They did a good job of making us work and speeding us up."

The Chippewas finished the game shooting just 36.8 percent (25-for-68), while the Broncos finished at a 51.9 clip (28-for-54).

Coimbra finished the game with 12 points and five boards while Thomas added a team-high seven rebounds to go with his 25 points. Senior forward William McClure recorded a game-high three blocks in the contest.

Douglas finished the game with 28 points while Juwan Howard Jr., scored 19. Stainbrook finished with a double-double, scoring 10 and pulling down 12 boards and Hutcheson gave the Broncos four in double figures with 12 points.

With the loss, the Chippewas were given the No. 9 seed in the MAC Tournament and will travel to Buffalo, N.Y., to take on the No. 8 Bulls at 7 p.m. Tuesday night. The winner advances to Cleveland.

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