Amherst, N.Y. — Junior Crystal Bradford scored 19 points, pulled down 16 rebounds and dished out a career-high 11 assists to record her first career triple double and lead Central Michigan past Buffalo Sunday afternoon, 82-68.
Bradford became just the fourth player in program history to accomplish the feat, joining Carla Sterk, Kaihla Szunko and Brandie Baker.
The Chippewas improved to 7-8 overall and 3-0 in the MAC with the victory, while the loss dropped the Bulls to 7-7 overall and 0-3 in the MAC.
The game was a tale of two halves for the junior star as she found her teammates early and often in the first half and took over in the paint and on the glass in the second half. Bradford had eight points, seven assists and four boards in the first half before scoring 11 points, pulling down 12 rebounds and handing out four more helpers in the second half.
CMU came out of the gates slow and trailed the Bulls after seven minutes, 13-12, but went on a 10-2 run over the next two-plus minutes to claim stake to a 22-15 advantage with 9:51 to play in the half. The Bulls were able to pull back within four at the 6:02 mark, 28-24, but the Chippewas again responded with a 10-2 run that included five points from senior Niki DiGuilio.
After the Bulls scored with 1:13 to go in the half to pull within 10, 38-28, Bradford put an exclamation point on a first half that saw the Chippewas hit six triples by pulling down an offensive rebound, dribbling back out to the perimeter and knocking down a trey that helped CMU hold a 41-30 lead at the break.
Despite the 11-point advantage at the break, the Chippewas struggled on the boards as they were outrebounded by the Bulls, 27-19. The edge didn’t last long though as head coach Sue Guevara challenged her players in the locker room and it paid off.
CMU outrebounded the Bulls 33-to-20 in the second half, seven of which came from junior Jas'Mine Bracey and 12 from Bradford.
The Bulls opened the second half on a quick 4-0 run to pull within seven, 41-34, but CMU quickly thwarted any chance of a comeback by reeling off 14-2 run over four-plus minutes to extend the lead to 55-36.
Bradford wasn’t done working however, as the junior hit a triple with 8:07 to play to push the lead to 21-points, 65-46, and hit a pair of free throws a minute later to give the Maroon and Gold their largest lead of the game, 70-47.
She then stamped her name in the CMU record books by dishing out her 10th assist of the game at the 5:02 mark, finding junior Kerby Tamm for a right-wing triple. The junior found senior Taylor Johnson for another triple later in the contest to preserve the 23-point advantage for her 11th assist of the game.
In addition to Bradford’s record-setting afternoon, Bracey scored 16 points and pulled down eight boards, while junior Jessica Green scored 12 points and snatched a season-high nine rebounds. DiGuilio scored 11 points to give CMU four in double figures.
The CMU defense was tough all day, holding the Bulls to 38.2 percent (26-for-68) from the floor all while limiting the Bulls’ leading scorer Mackenzie Loesing to just four points on 1-of-12 shooting.
Sharkey led UB with 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Christa Baccas also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards.
CMU returns home for a two-game homestand beginning Wednesday, Jan. 15 versus Northern Illinois. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.