MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Braylon Rayson scored 24 points, Chris Fowler had 20, and Rayshawn Simmons added 18 Tuesday as the Central Michigan Chippewas topped Akron, 92-81, in a Mid-American Conference game before 2,260 at McGuirk Arena.
The win lifted CMU to 9-7, 2-1 MAC. Akron, which came in riding a 10-game win streak, is 13-3, 2-1. With their victory, the Chippewas snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Zips, who, at No. 11, are the highest-ranked MAC team in the collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll. CMU's last win over Akron came on Jan. 26, 2008.
"I think that's the only team . . .
The Chippewas go to Buffalo, 8-8, 1-2, on Saturday (3:30 p.m.) for a MAC game. The Bulls fell to Eastern Michigan, 81-69, on Tuesday.
CMU, the defending regular-season MAC champion, was picked to win the MAC West and the league tournament in the preseason poll. Akron was picked to win the East.
"Whatever the rest of the Mid-American Conference thinks is what they think, but we're just going to the play the game that's in front of us, and we're not worried about sending messages or anything like that," Fowler said. "Every (game) has been a championship game from game one. We don't put (more) value into certain teams. We like winning. Tonight was our championship game, and we'll go ahead to Buffalo with the same mindset."
CMU overcame an uncharacteristic poor shooting night from 3-point range. The Chippewas, who entered the game averaging 10.7 triples per game, finished with a season-low five on 20 attempts (25%).
They made up for it just about everywhere else.
The Chippewas outscored Akron, 48-38, in the paint and finished 25-for-28 from the free throw line. Rayson was a perfect 10-for-10 from the stripe, while Simmons and Fowler each finished 6-for-7.
Luke Meyer added 14 points and led CMU with eight rebounds. The Chippewas played the Zips to a 39-39 draw on the glass. The 92 points was the most Akron has allowed this season as the Zips entered the game ranked second in the MAC, allowing an average of 63.8 per game.
Fowler finished with five assists and did not commit a turnover. The Chippewas turned the ball over just three times, a season-low.
"Akron has really been the class of this conference as far as having talent and success over a long period of time," said CMU coach Keno Davis, who notched his first victory over Akron in four tries as the Chippewas' coach. "We knew coming into the game that with their talent, their great coaching, the way that they had played in their last 10 games, that we were going to have to have our very best effort of the year to give ourselves a chance in the game. And we didn't even know if that would be enough."
Reggie McAdams made five of his 10 3-point attempts en route to 21 points to lead the Zips, while Noah Robotham added 19.
The Chippewas finally broke away with under five minutes remaining, using a 10-2 run to up their lead to 12, 78-66, with 2:12 remaining.
Meyer started the spurt with an inside bucket off a nice feed from a driving Rayson, and he finished it off with a dunk, again off a Rayson assist. The Zips never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
All 10 of CMU's points during the game-clinching run came at the rim or from the free throw line. The Chippewas were 18-for-21 from the charity stripe in the second half.