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Courtesy: Matt Reynolds/Jacksonville State
CMU Drops Hardfought 77-70 Contest to Miami in MAC Opener
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Central Michigan battled visiting Miami (Ohio) from beginning to end of Wednesday’s MAC opener but couldn’t complete a late comeback and fell to the RedHawks, 77-70, at McGuirk Arena.

Sophomore guard Chris Fowler led all scorers, including three Chippewas in double figures with 22 points, his seventh 20-point game of the season, and tallied a game-high seven assists. Blake Hibbitts produced his highest scoring output since late November, totaling 17, including 15 from three-point range. John Simons finished one rebound shy of a double-double for the third time this season, posting 10 points and nine boards.

Central Michigan (7-6, 0-1 MAC) was hampered by 17 turnovers in the physical conference match-up, partially forced by 12 Miami steals. The Chippewas also struggled to knock down the three, making 9-of-29, and uncharacteristically missed seven of its 22 attempts from the free throw line. CMU, however, managed to win the battle on the boards, outrebounding the RedHawks, 38-31.

The deciding point of the game came late with Central down 69-62 with 1:21 remaining. Following a made free throw by Miami’s Geovonie McKnight, Rayshawn Simmons scored on a layup and then Fowler stole the in-bound pass and put it in to pull CMU within three points. Pressure by the Chippewas nearly forced another turnover but a 50-50 ball at midcourt bounded to McKnight who had a clear path to an uncontested layup. Simmons raced to stop the shot and was called for an intentional foul. From there, Miami was able to salt the game away at the free throw line and claim the MAC opener.

Early in the second half, CMU built on a slight halftime lead, going up 36-33 with 16:23 remaining following an acrobatic layup by Braylon Rayson and a made free throw by Fowler. However, the advantage was quickly erased by a 9-0 Miami run, which included layups by Will Sullivan, Jaryd Eustace and Quinten Collins. The RedHawks would go on to forge its largest lead of the game at 60-49 at the 5:50 and maintain the upper hand to the final horn.

Things looked promising early for CMU as Austin Stewart drained just his third three-pointer of the season just over a minute in, but Miami got hot from the field, scoring the next nine points. The Chippewas remained within striking distance and, after a jumper from Fowler and a Hibbitts three-pointer, pulled even with the RedHawks at 23-23 with 4:34 remaining in the first half. Simons and Fowler followed with layups to up the lead to four but a Eustace three-pointer rendered a one-point CMU halftime lead at 27-26.

McKnight and Sullivan led Miami (5-7, 1-0 MAC) with 17 points each. Will Felder added 15 while Eustace had 13. The RedHawks finished the game shooting 48 percent from the field and 81 percent at the free throw line.  

CMU is back in action on Saturday when it travels to Toledo (12-2, 0-1 MAC) to face the Rockets in a 6 p.m. MAC contest at Savage 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.

For an insiders look at the 2013-14 Chippewas, click here to view the Central Michigan Men’s Basketball MAC Guide. Find feature stories, coach and player bios, videos and much more.


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