MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Sophomore guard Chris Fowler scored 25 points and added six assists and four rebounds to lead Central Michigan to a 92-88 overtime win over Lake Superior State on Monday night at McGuirk Arena.
“I think Chris Fowler is much improved and that’s saying something after the season he had last year,” said CMU head coach Keno Davis. “He works as hard as anybody I have ever coached. As a result, he is becoming more of an all-around player.”
Fowler hit on nine of his 17 shots and made 7-of-9 free throws to account for his game-high point total. Sophomore forward John Simons also played a key role in the victory, totaling 21 points, including seven in the overtime period, and nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Austin Stewart came off the bench to contribute 14 points and seven rebounds.
A wild finish marked the end of regulation play. Down 77-74, CMU’s Spencer Krannitz was fouled, sending him to the free throw line. The sophomore made the first but missed the second. Simons got the put back, tying the game at 77-77, and was fouled in the process. However, he missed the ensuing free throw, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra period, LSSU jumped out to six-point 83-77 lead that was cut to one after a three-pointer by Simons and a steal and lay-up by junior guard Austin Keel. After the Lakers made two free throws, CMU moved ahead by two at 87-85 on the strength of two runners by Fowler. Simons then drew a charge on the following Lake State possession and sophomore forward Blake Hibbitts sealed the win from the free throw line.
CMU was plagued by cold shooting in the first half and Lake Superior State capitalized. The Lakers opened the game on a 9-0 run and didn’t look back, opening up an 18-point lead, their largest of the game, at 42-24 with 1:22 left in the half. However, the Chippewas fought back to swing the momentum in the remaining time, scoring seven straight, finished off by a steal of the inbound pass and lay-up by sophomore guard Derrick Richardson.
Central carried over that momentum into the second half to firmly place itself back in the game. The Chippewas scored six-straight after the break to move within four and eventually took their first lead of the game at 49-47 with 13:40 remaining on a Simons tip in. The teams battled back and forth over the next 12-plus minutes, with neither moving ahead by more than five points, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
A total of 14 CMU players saw action in the exhibition contest, with 10 scoring three or more points. Three true freshmen, Nick Carlos, Braylon Rayson and Josh Kozinski, made their collegiate debuts.
The Chippewas will open regular season play on Friday, Nov. 8 when they host Manchester in a 2:30 p.m. game at 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.