Jared Porter, CMUChippewas.com
AKRON, Ohio - The Central Michigan men's basketball team made a valiant comeback in their game with Akron Saturday night, but ultimately fell to the Zips, 82-76.
The loss dropped the Chippewas to 12-3 overall, 2-2 in the Mid-American Conference. Akron is 12-5, 3-1.
With 3 minutes, 41 seconds remaining, CMU was down 71-58. A 14-2 run brought the Chippewas to within one point, 73-72, with 59 seconds left.
But the Chippewas came no closer and allowed Akron to close out the game on a 9-4 run.
"You have to remember that we only have three losses now and we haven't had much experience coming from behind in games," coach Keno Davis said. "We weren't able to (make a comeback) at Ball State or Bradley (CMU's other two losses).
"We weren't able to fight back and make those calls. So to be able to turn the page and in a game that looked like we weren't going to be able to give ourselves an opportunity, we did.
"We played really hard and even though in the first half we couldn't make anything, to give yourself a chance on the road after our first half offensively that we had, I think it's a good sign of things to come."
After scoring 105 points against Miami (Ohio), the Chippewas - who entered the game second in the nation in scoring at 85.9 points per game -- totaled just 24 points in the first half while making just 25 percent (6-of-24) of their field goal attempts.
The Chippewas flipped the script in the second half, going 16-of-29 (55.2 percent) from the field, which allowed them to crawl back late in the game.
Akron presented a physical test that CMU had not seen this season, Davis said.
"I think (Akron's) game plan was to come out and foul us every possession," he said. "Their thought coming in was that we're more of a finesse team and they were going to push and shove us around. And they did it.
"It took us a while to respond. I thought in the second half that we did an extremely good job of being able to respond to that physical play. Plus, a team that does that is going to get tired and I think you saw that (with Akron).
"You know, we put up 24 points in the first half and you think, `That team just scored 105 points.' But then we turn around in the second half and put 52 on a historically really good defensive team like Akron."
The Chippewas were out-rebounded, 43-32, and Davis said he would like to see more contribution from his younger players in that category.
"I'm not going to blame our freshman," he said. "I'm the last person that would blame anybody, let alone a freshman. But you see our inexperience inside.
"Luke Meyer (freshman) played really hard. He gets three rebounds in 20 minutes (of playing time). DaRohn (Scott, also a freshman) doesn't get any rebounds in 10 minutes.
"John Simons (junior), he's a veteran player. He comes in there and plays 10 minutes at (center) as well as other positions and he gets 10 rebounds.
"We needed another guy in there, another physical presence to be able to rebound. The 16 offensive rebounds that (Akron) got are a surprise to me. Not because they're not a very physical team, but we've been a really good defensive rebounding team. We did not see that tonight."
Junior Chris Fowler led the Chippewas with 26 points, becoming the 29th player in school history to surpass 1,000 in his career. He added five assists on the night as well.
"What can you say about Chris that hasn't already been said?" Davis said. "He just about willed us to an unbelievable win. He did everything he could tonight. It says he played 38 minutes, but I don't remember the two minutes he was out. We probably snuck him a quick rest.
"(Fowler) is going to be one of those guys that, when we get things going, whether it's this year or next year or the following years, we're going to remember Chris Fowler as somebody that not only gave everything and worked extremely hard, but really bridged this gap to being a successful program."
Junior Austin Stewart totaled nine points and seven rebounds on the night for CMU.
Reggie McAdams led the Zips with a career-high 31 points while adding six rebounds.
The Chippewas led briefly in the game's opening two minutes, but the Zips slowly built their advantage to as many as 16 points late in the first half.
The Chippewas continued to battle despite a double-digit deficit for most of the second half until their 14-2 spurt, during which Fowler scored five points, drew them within one, 73-72.
A Nyles Evans triple with 39 seconds left upped Akron's lead to 76-72 and triggered the Zips' 9-4 game-closing surge. The Zips were 6-for-6 from the free throw line over the final 21 seconds.
Next up, the Chippewas plays host to Buffalo in a MAC game on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at McGuirk Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.