CMU coach Sue Guevara talks with her players during a timeout in Wednesday's MAC Tournament quarterfinal victory over Eastern Michigan at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
March 8, 2018
|No. 1 CENTRAL MICHIGAN
No. 4 MIAMI
|26-4, 17-1 MAC
||21-9, 12-6 MAC
Friday, March 9 | 11 a.m.
Quicken Loans Arena | Cleveland, Ohio BUY TICKETS
Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
CLEVELAND -- Sue Guevara has been in the coaching biz for a good bit. She's won a lot of games and some championships.
She's also seen her share of heartbreak, including in each of the past two years in the Mid-American Conference Tournament when her Central Michigan women's basketball team lost in the championship game (2016) and was upset in the quarterfinals ('17).
Guevara has talked all season about staying in the moment, and getting her veteran squad farther than it went a year ago.
The Chippewas are there now. CMU, 26-4 and the No. 1 seed, will take on fourth-seeded Miami (Ohio) in a semifinal game at 11 a.m. on Friday. The winner plays second-seeded Buffalo or Western Michigan in the title game on Saturday (11 a.m.).
CMU defeated the RedHawks, 84-66, in Oxford, Ohio two months ago. Miami (21-9) defeated Ohio, 69-66, in a quarterfinal game on Wednesday.
"You never stop learning," Guevara said on Thursday. "Miami is playing better now, and so are we. I think we're going to get their absolute best game. It's the same boring mantra: It's one game at a time.
"We have to give them our best shot because we are going to take their best shot. It's just one game. It's the next game we're going to play."
The Chippewas held off a late charge from Eastern Michigan in Wednesday's quarterfinal, winning 67-64. CMU led 62-49 with just over three minutes to play. The Eagles twice pulled to within a point, the last time with 41 seconds left.
It was a tight-rope test for a veteran Chippewa team that features two senior and two junior starters, all of whom played key roles on those last two teams that suffered heartbreak in Cleveland.
"I saw frustration take over some of our key players, and they couldn't get themselves out of it," Guevera said of the game against Eastern. "Because of that, we played tentative. We played like we had everything to lose. We calmed down a little bit and we withstood the run."
In March, it's all about surviving and advancing. That's a lesson that even a veteran team can take to heart, and it appears the Chippewas have.
"We have been through these situations, whether it's been during the regular season or tournament time," senior guard Cassie Breen said, adding that it's now-or-never time for her and fellow seniors Tinara Moore and Aleah Swary. "The power we have as a team is really honing in on just the next game, keeping composed in the present moment and just playing our game."
The Chippewas, Breen said, have completely bought in to Guevara's one-game-at-a-time mantra, and nothing has changed since they arrived in Cleveland. Eastern Michigan is in the rearview mirror, as are CMU's past tournament disappointments and its back-to-back MAC regular-season championships.
The title, an NCAA Tournament berth, and a program record for victories -- a win over Miami would be CMU's record-tying 27th of the season -- are nowhere on the radar at the moment.
"We are thinking about Miami and focusing on what the game plan is," Breen said. "We're just focused on that next game."