Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
YPSILANTI, Mich. - Central Michigan fell into an early hole and could never climb out Tuesday as the Chippewas dropped a 71-56 decision to Eastern Michigan at the Eagles' Convocation Center.
The loss, CMU's second straight, dropped the Chippewas to 13-11 overall, 6-5 in the Mid-American Conference. Eastern is 12-12, 4-7. The Eagles, who had lost six of their previous seven entering Tuesday's game, swept the season series from the Chippewas.
"We didn't defend really well, we couldn't make a shot, couldn't get to the free throw line, and we got beat on the boards," said CMU coach Keno Davis, whose team never led. "Is that frustrating? Yeah it's frustrating."
The Chippewas remain tied for first place in the MAC West with Ball State, which lost, 72-69, to Ohio on Tuesday. The Cardinals, 15-9, 6-5, and CMU will play Saturday (4:30 p.m.) at McGuirk Arena.
"As long as you have games on your schedule all your goals are still there," Davis said. "And I know our team is looking forward to getting the taste of this game out of our mouths."
Chris Fowler scored 16 points to lead CMU, which made just 36 percent of its field goal attempts including 20 percent (5-of-25) from 3-point range.
The 56 points was CMU's season-low, and its 3-point shooting percentage was its worst this season.
"Even though we've moved the program forward and we can beat anybody in the league, we're not markedly better than everybody in the league," Davis said. "We understand there's going to be some highs and lows and when we look bad in an area it doesn't mean we're that bad - we need to continue to improve and get ready for Saturday night."
The Eagles got 19 points and 15 rebounds from 6-foot-10 freshman James Thompson.
The Eagles outrebounded the Chippewas 40-27. Thirteen of Eastern's rebounds came on the offensive end (Thompson had seven), and the Eagles outscored CMU 20-11 in second-chance points.
"When you get soundly beat there's not much reason for a coach to go in and yell and throw stuff," Davis said. "It doesn't do a whole lot of good. It's about what can I constructively talk about that we can do better.
"It is a unique game playing Eastern Michigan. We won't see anybody like them the rest of the way unless we play them again (in the MAC Tournament).
"Part of the things we saw we knew were deficiencies (for us). There was nothing we saw tonight that surprised us. It was the rebounding, some of the moves to the basket to draw fouls, and we had a poor shooting night. You add those up and you hope it was just a off night for us and a strong night for them and we don't see that again."
CMU slipped to 2-7 in road games this season, including 2-4 in the MAC.
The Eagles led, 16-15, just over midway through the first half, then closed the half with a 22-8 run for a 38-23 halftime lead.
CMU crept within seven points, 54-47, with under six minutes remaining on a Fowler free throw. But Raven Lee drilled a 3-pointer with just over four minutes left to re-up EMU's advantage to 10, 57-47. CMU never got closer than nine the rest of the way.