Courtesy: Robert Barclay/CMU
Central Michigan junior Crystal Bradford scored 22 of her game-high 24 points in the second half as the Chippewas opened Mid-American Conference play with a 84-71 win over defending MAC champion Toledo Saturday afternoon.
Deep Ball Helps CMU Run Away from Toledo in MAC Opener, 84-71

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Fourteen three-point field goals, including nine in a 49-point second half, allowed Central Michigan to erase a first-half deficit and defeat Toledo in both team’s Mid-American Conference opener Saturday afternoon, 84-71.

The Chippewas (5-8, 1-0 MAC) trailed at halftime by a pair, 37-35, but were able to quickly turn things around in the second half thanks to finding their stroke from deep.

With the Chippewas facing their largest deficit of the game with 16:21 to play, 49-43, junior Crystal Bradford took over and led the Maroon and Gold on a 26-6 run over the next seven minutes of play.

Bradford had gone just 1-of-10 from the floor in the first half, but got things going with a three with 15:35 to play and assisted on a triple by senior Taylor Johnson with 13:52 to go that gave CMU a 53-51 advantage. The shots kept falling for CMU from deep as five of their next six made field goals were from behind the arc, capped on a step-back triple from Bradford with 9:52 to play that capped the run.

A three-point play the old fashioned way by Bradford with 8:36 on the clock gave the junior seven-straight points and the Chippewas their largest lead of the game, 75-57, but it was a three by DiGuilio that put the nail and the coffin and stamped the senior’s name in the record books for eternity.

After a three by the Rockets’ (5-7, 0-1 MAC) Andola Dortch, junior Jessica Green came off a hard screen by Johnson and found DiGuilio in the corner for her fourth three of the game, giving the senior the all-time lead for three-point field goals by a man or woman at Central Michigan with 235.

The Rockets were able to cut their deficit to as 11, 78-67, but a pair of free throws by Johnson pushed CMU over the 80-point threshold for the third-straight game and Bradford put an exclamation point on her 22-point second half with a steal and fastbreak layup for CMU’s final points of the day.

Bradford finished with her seventh double-double of the season, and sixth in her last seven games, with a game-high 24 points and 13 rebounds. She also dished out five assists and came away with two steals to lead CMU.

Despite a cold first half in which they shot just 37.5 percent (15-for-40), the Chippewas were able to hang around thanks in large part to the play of junior Kerby Tamm and sophomore Da’Jourie Turner.

Tamm scored 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the floor, while Turner went a perfect 4-for-4 to score eight of her nine points in the first half.

Tamm finished the night with 16 points, including going 4-for-4 from deep, six rebounds and three assists, while DiGuilio had four triples to score 12 points and give CMU three players in double figures. Johnson chipped in with eight points and five rebounds in an efficient afternoon off the bench.

Inma Zanoguera led the Rockets with 21 points and five assists, while Dortch had scored 17 and dished out four assists. Brianna Jones finished with a double-double for Toledo, scoring 11 points and pulling down 10 boards.

CMU is back on the road for a pair of televised contests next week when it takes on Akron on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. and Buffalo on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. Both games will be televised on the Time Warner SportsChannel.