Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
CMU Fends Off Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for 68-64 Road Win
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Sophomore forward Blake Hibbitts and junior guard Austin Keel made key plays down the stretch, helping Central Michigan secure a big 68-64 road win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Tuesday night.

With CMU down 64-62, Hibbitts drained a three-pointer, his fifth of the game, with 13 seconds remaining, retaking the lead for the Chippewas. Keel stole the ball on the ensuing Islanders possession and drew an intentional foul. He made both free throws and Rayshawn Simmons followed with one more, providing Central with the winning four-point margin.

“I would characterize this game by saying, ‘we found a way,’” said CMU head coach Keno Davis. “Going on the road with a young team, that’s how you have to describe it. You have to be able to make enough plays. We got a stop when we needed it. We got a made shot when we needed it. And we were able to execute getting the ball and made some free throws late.”

Hibbitts lead three Chippewas who scored in double figures, tallying 15 points, all on three-point buckets. Sophomore point guard Chris Fowler added 13 and dished out five assists. Sophomore forward John Simons finished the game just shy of a double-double, scoring 11 points while pulling down nine rebounds.

Central Michigan (4-3) fell behind early, 8-4, after Corpus Christi guard Hameed Ali hit a three-pointer, but the Chippewas responded with an 11-0 run, which was fueled threes from Keel, Austin Stewart and Nick Carlos, to build a 15-8 lead.

CMU maintained that advantage throughout the remainder of the first half, stretching it to a game-high 10 points at 30-20 at the 3:15 mark off another Hibbitts’ trey. The Islanders managed to cut into that lead in the final minutes of the half, moving to within three at 36-33 with a jumper by Brandon Pye at the buzzer.

The Chippewas remained on top for most of the second half, increasing its lead to as much as nine twice. After Fowler made a three throw to provide CMU with a 47-38 lead at the 14:53 mark, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (3-5) went on a 12-3 run, tying the game at 50-50 on a dunk by Zane Knowles. Knowles led the Islanders with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

The game was a back-and-forth affair over the final 10 minutes with CMU regaining and then holding its lead until Jeff Beverly made two free throws to move Corpus Christi ahead for the first time since early in the first half. After Fowler made two clutch free throws to place CMU back on top at 62-61, Jelani Currie buried a long distance three-pointer to put the Chippewas back in the hole, setting the stage for Hibbitts’ heroics.

CMU will return home on Saturday, Nov. 30, hosting Jacksonville State (2-5) in a 7 p.m. contest in McGuirk Arena.

Central Michigan men’s basketball is on Twitter. Follow head coach Keno Davis (@CoachKenoDavis) and the program’s official Twitter account (@CMUMensBBall) to get insider news and information and team updates. The Chippewas are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CMUMensBBall.
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