CLEVELAND, Ohio - No. 5 Central Michigan got 57 points from its three Mid-American Conference All-Freshman Team selections Thursday afternoon as it defeated No. 4 Miami, 78-64, inside Quicken Loans Arena.
Jas'Mine Bracey tied a career high with 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field, Crystal Bradford recorded her second double-double of the tournament with 19 points and 13 rebounds and Jessica Green scored 17 points and dished out five assists as the trio of diaper dandies led CMU to a matchup with No. 1 seed Bowling Green Friday at noon on SportsTime Ohio and ESPN3.
The Chippewas (19-14) are also on a six-game win streak, the longest since CMU won seven straight in 1987-88.
The Maroon and Gold used a 13-0 run, that began with a three-pointer from Brandie Baker at 10:15, to grab a 55-44 lead with 7:53 left to play. The Chippewas never allowed the RedHawks (21-9) to get closer than six and closed out the game making six free throws in the final 1:29 to seal the win.
The Maroon and Gold trailed the RedHawks by one at halftime, 30-29, but used an 11-3 run to start the second half to grab a 40-33 lead at the 14:29 mark.
Miami regained the lead at 10:15 on a three-point field goal by Maggie Boyer, 44-42, but Baker promptly responded with a three of her own.
Free throws allowed the RedHawks to get back into the game as Kirsten Olowinski hit a pair with 4:53 remaining in the game to pull MU within six, 63-57, but a 7-2 run put the Chippewas back up by 11, 70-59, with 1:46 to play. CMU remained up by double digits to close the game and advance to the MAC Tournament semifinals for the second-straight year.
"We were able to do a really good job pressuring the ball and getting in the passing lane and getting steals," said head coach Sue Guevara who is now 6-4 in the MAC Tournament. "That's different for a Central Michigan team. The last couple of years we have been known for our offense, but our defense has really come along the last six games. It hasn't mattered if we were in zone or in man, the defense has made a big, big difference."
CMU forced MU into 20 turnovers, which led to 19 points. It also held MU to only 27.9 percent from the floor, which ties the lowest on the season for the RedHawks and the lowest by a CMU opponent.
Bracey started the game the same as she did yesterday against Ohio, by scoring the first four points for the Chippewas. The RedHawks quickly grabbed the lead, 10-4, at 14:55. The CMU defense held MU to only one point for over four minutes as it scored seven to trail 13-11 at 11:06. The Maroon and Gold added a 5-0 run, with three points from Bradford and two from Green, to take a 16-15 lead with 8:22 remaining. The RedHawks regained the lead and pushed the gap to eight, 28-20, at 3:02. CMU toughened up the defense, forcing three-straight turnovers and was able to go into the break with the momentum, thanks to a jumper by Jalisa Olive with seven seconds showing on the clock.
Baker finished the game with eight points, three assists, two blocks and four steals. Green also had a career-high four blocks with Bradford adding three.
CMU finished shooting 42.9 percent from the floor and had points in the paint. The Maroon and Gold bench added 31 points.