Courtesy: Kyle Kelley/CMU Athletics
Central Michigan junior Crystal Bradford fires a shot over Samarie Walker during the second half of Sunday's game at Kentucky. The Chippewas fell to the No. 7/8 Wildcats, 96-74.
Chippewas Suffer First Loss at No. 7/8 Kentucky, 96-74

Lexington, Ky. - Central Michigan was unable to contain Kentucky's size in the second half Sunday afternoon as the No. 7/8 Wildcats ran away with a 96-74 victory in Memorial Coliseum.

Junior Crystal Bradford led the Chippewas (1-1) with 23 points, becoming the 22nd player in program history to join the 1,000-point club. Bradford hit the 1,000-point mark with a basket at the 13:59 mark of the second half.

The Chippewas were outrebounded 55-36 in the contest, including 26-15 on the offensive side, allowing the Wildcats (4-0) to score 16 points off second chances.

Despite the size discrepancy, the Chippewas kept the game within striking distance through the first 20 mintues and trailed by just nine at halftime, 46-37.

After senior Niki DiGuilio knocked down a jumper to even the game, 2-2, the Wildcats went on a 12-0 run over the next 4:20 to take a 14-2 lead. DiGuilio stopped the run with a corner three and the Chippewas were able to cut the deficit to eight, 24-16, on another triple by the senior sharp shooter at the 8:54 mark.

A bucket in the paint by Denesha Stallworth pushed the Wildcats' lead back to fourteen, 41-27, with 3:48 to play in the first half, but junior Jessica Green rained in a long triple and DiGuilio knocked down her third trey of the half to to pull CMU within nine at the half.

The Wildcats slowly but surely extended their lead in the second half, pushing their advantage to as much as 19 with 10:45 to play, 72-53.

CMU did not break however, using a 9-1 run to cut the lead to 73-62 with 8:32 to play. DiGuilio was fouled on a three and knocked down all three free throws to spark the run and junior Jas'Mine Bracey scored four of her eight points during the stretch.

Redshirt freshman Jewel Cotton scored six-straight points to keep the Chippewas within striking distance, but her layup with 5:53 to play that cut the lead to 12 was as close as the Maroon and Gold would get.

DiGuilio finished the day with 14 points on 3-of-6 shooting from deep, while Cotton finished with 12 points for her first career double-digit effort.

CMU shot just 60 percent (15-for-25) from the free throw line, while the Wildcats knocked down a 77.4 percent (24-for-31) clip.

The Chippewas are back in action Thursday, Nov. 21 when they travel to Marquette to take on the Golden Eagles at 8 p.m.