Lindsay Gerber, CMUChippewas.com
MUNCIE, Ind. – The Central Michigan women’s basketball team opened its Mid-American Conference season on the road against Ball State on Saturday, and it went as good as they had hoped in Worthen Arena.
Not only did the Chippewas defeat the Cardinals, 69-65, to snag the first conference win, but CMU also handed BSU its first loss of the season. Central Michigan, which snapped a two-game losing streak, improved to 9-3. The Cardinals (11-1) entered the game ranked fifth in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. The Chippewas are ranked 13th in the poll.
Junior forward Reyna Frost tied her season-high with 23 points and set a season-high in rebounds with 19, marking her sixth double-double of the season, to lead the Chippewas. She went 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
The two teams squared off and it was a battle, as expected, from the opening tip. Ball State collected 18 points off of Central Michigan’s 26 turnovers, but the Chippewas were able to grab 55 rebounds to the Cardinals’ 44, and CMU made 17 of its 19 free throw attempts, including 14-of-15 in the second half.
It came down to trading baskets in the final quarter.
“How we won this game with as many turnovers as we had … we played despite ourselves,” said CMU coach Sue Guevara. “But if you look at the boards -- 55 rebounds. We knew that’s what we had to control. We knew it was going to come down to rebounding and free throws.”
Central Michigan held the lead for the majority of the game and had a 49-37 advantage going into the final quarter.
Ball State used a 14-2 surge to tie it at 51-51 with just over five minutes remaining. It was the first of five times the game would be tied in the final quarter. Frost broke the final deadlock with a jumper from the free throw line with 1:15 remaining, putting the Chippewas up 65-63.
The started a 6-0 run during which Micaela Kelly and Presley Hudson combined to go 4-for-4 from the free throw line. That extended the lead to 69-63 with under 10 ticks remaining.
Hudson and Tinara Moore had 13 points apiece for the Chippewas Moore also had 14 rebounds and a season-high five blocks. It was her fifth double-double of the season. Hudson dished a team-high five assists.
Moriah Monaco led Ball State in points with 17 while Frannie Frazier added 10 rebounds.
Central Michigan finished 37.7 percent from the field and 20 percent from beyond the arc.
The Chippewas play host to Ohio in a MAC game on Wednesday, Jan. 3 (7 p.m.) at McGuirk Arena. The Bobcats are scheduled to open league play on Sunday at home against Toledo.
“Our conference is just brutal,” said Guevara. “Every game is going to be a heavyweight going after a heavyweight. So for all the fans, welcome to MAC women’s basketball. It’s going to be a fun year.”