Records Fall as Baker's Triple-Double Paces Chippewas
Courtesy: Mike Slade
Brandie Baker drives into the lane during CMU's 119-71 victory over North Carolina A&T at the Winthrop Classic on Friday. Baker finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and a school-record 12 assists for the first triple-double in school history.

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ROCK HILL, S.C. -- What a way to start.

Sophomore Brandie Baker put together the first triple-double in program history and Central Michigan broke its single-game scoring record in a 119-71 season-opening victory over North Carolina A&T to open the Winthrop Classic at the Winthrop Coliseum on Friday.

The Chippewas (1-0) blew the game open on the offensive surge by Jalisa Olive, who scored 17 points in 10-first-half minutes, and held a lead as big as 55 over the Aggies (0-1).

"I've said all preseason that we would only be as good as our bench, and today they were pretty good," head coach Sue Guevara said. "We got contributions from everyone and I was really pleased with our defensive effort and our rebounding, two of our biggest problems over the last two years."

Baker, playing in her first game since March 13, 2009 after a knee injury cost her the entire 2009-10 season, finished with 12 points on 5-of-13 from the floor, 10 rebounds and 12 assists, which is also a school record. Olive had a career high 32 points on an 11-for-16 night, including 5-of-7 from deep, and senior Kaihla Szunko finished with her 24th career double-double, scoring 25 points to go with 12 boards.

"Brandie responds very well to coaching and film," Guevara said. "She is willing to do whatever this team needs her to do. Today, she found the open player, she was able to get inside and rebounded well.

"With JO, we've talked to her a lot about letting the game come to her. Her defense directly led to some of her early buckets and that got her going. Then her three started falling and she remained patient offensively."

NCAT, the three-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular season champion, took a one-point lead 48 seconds into the contest, but CMU took a 4-1 lead on a three by Baker at the 18:39 mark and never looked back. At the 12:28 mark, the Chippewas' lead was four, 19-15, but the Maroon and Gold would outscore the Aggies 45-10 over the next 10:36, holding a 64-25 lead with just under two minutes to play in the half.

"The first half was the best half of basketball we've played since I've been here," Guevara said. "We were firing on all cylinders, we had great effort and we were a lot of fun to watch."

The Chippewas shot 55 percent from the floor (46-for-84) and 43 percent from the arc (13-for-30) and outrebounded the Aggies, 53-38. NCAT finished at 32 percent from the field (22-for-69), including 24 percent from long range (5-for-21).

Reserve Mikala Scott led North Carolina A&T with 17 points on an 8-for-18 night. Senior Shonda Long gave CMU three players with at least 20 points (21) on an 8-for-14 effort, including 5-for-11 from long range.

The 119 points the Chippewas poured in breaks the previous single-game mark of 116, set against Tri-State in the 2003 season-opener.

"It was a great way to open the season," Guevara said. "You see the importance of a Baker, the consistency of a Szunko and the great shooting of a Long. Our freshmen were able to get their feet wet, and now we get a day to rest up."

CMU faces Belmont in the Winthrop Classic championship game on Sunday, at 1 p.m.

NOTES
The 13 made threes are the second-most in CMU history, the fifth time Central Michigan has made at least that many in Guevara's tenure ... CMU had 31 assists as a team, the second-most in school history, and 20 steals, tied for fifth-most ... the 32 points by Olive tied her for ninth on CMU's single-game chart ... it was the 18th 30-plus scoring effort in Chippewa history ... the 12 assists by Baker breaks a mark held by six players, the most recent being Priscilla Poole vs. Tri-State ... not even a malfunction with the lights could slow the Chippewas. The arena lights were shut off during the final media time out in the first half, causing a 20-minute delay while they cooled before they could be turned back on ... Baker's triple-double is the first in Central Michigan basketball history, men's or women's.

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