Zach Libby, CMUChippewas.com
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- Central Michigan coach Keno Davis set an ultimatum for his team following their Mid-American Conference-opening loss to Eastern Michigan.
The goal was to get better, primarily on the defensive end, in the shortened days before traveling to Bowling Green, a key factor in their 99-80 loss at McGuirk Arena on Wednesday.
Commencing their first conference road game on the schedule, the Chippewas limited Bowling Green to 42.1 percent shooting on Saturday in posting a 79-67 win at the Falcons’ Stroh Center.
It was the first win of the season away from McGuirk Arena for the Chippewas, who improved to 8-7, 1-1 MAC.
“We talked about not trying to get too high after a win or too low after a loss,” Davis said. “It’s a grind this year in the conference and we understand what we’re trying to do, get as many wins as we can, but let’s make sure we’re playing our best basketball in March.”
Braylon Rayson scored 27 points – one shy of his season-high – to lead the Chippewas. Rayson made nine of his 13 field goal attempts including a 5-for-8 clip from 3-point range.
Rayshawn Simmons added 17 points, Chris Fowler had 14 points and eight assists, and John Simons had 12 points and 10 rebounds for CMU.
“Both having one guy (Rayson) who stepped up and had a big night, and yet having the consistency of having four guys in double figures,” Davis said. “We didn’t get a whole lot of bench production, but I understand that, Josh Kozinski shot 12 threes against Eastern (Michigan), (Bowling Green) had them locked up, which opened up the game for other guys to be able to get to the basket and free throw line.”
The Chippewas made 21 of their 27 free throw attempts, led by Fowler, who was 9-for-13. CMU led 33-30 at halftime, and outscored the Falcons, 46-37, in the second half.
The Chippewas led 46-42 when Rayson touched off a 19-7 surge with a 3-pointer midway through the second half. A Rayson jumper just over five minutes later extended the lead to 16, 65-49. Bowling Green never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
BGSU’s leading scorer Zack Denny, a junior guard, finished with five points on 2-of-9 shooting. Denny entered the game averaging 13.9 points per game and had recorded four double-doubles this season.
Senior forward Spencer Parker scored 15 points to lead the Falcons (10-5, 1-1), who saw their three-game win streak and five-game home win streak come to an end.
Bowling Green entered the game with a two-game winning streak over Central Michigan, dating to 2014. The last matchup between the pair ended in overtime in Mount Pleasant on Feb. 4, 2015.
Central Michigan now claims four wins in the last six visits to the Stroh Center. The Chippewas play host to Akron (13-2, 2-0) in a MAC game on Tuesday. The Zips defeated Western Michigan, 62-53, on Friday.