John Simons scored 13 points to lead five Chippewas in double figures Monday as the Central Michigan Chippewas improved to 9-1 by rolling to an 87-58 non-conference victory at McNeese State.
Chris Fowler and Austin Keel added 12 points apiece, Rayshawn Simmons had 11, and Blake Hibbitts contributed 10 as CMU notched its fourth consecutive victory.Three of those four wins have come by 29 points or more.
The Chippewas fell behind early to the Cowboys (5-5), trailing 21-14 midway through the first half. Then, they turned on the jets. Central Michigan outscored the Cowboys, 29-6, over the final 10:25 of the half to seize a 43-27 halftime lead.
“Nice team win and a nice way to go on a little bit of a break before getting back to McGuirk Arena.”
DaRohn Scott, CMU’s 6-foot-8 backup center, ignited the game-changing spurt with a dunk that turned into a three-point play when he converted the and-one. Josh Kozinski gave the Chippewas the lead for good, 27-24, with a three-pointer with 6:19 to play in the half.
Scott finished with nine points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes, the same number of minutes logged by starting center Luke Meyer.
“(Scott) was able to get more minutes because of the game stretching out, but even at an early point when we were down, I said to the assistants that DaRohn’s going to play more in this game because we need his athleticism,” Davis said. “We needed his physical strength; we needed his size against a team that’s top 10 in blocks (nationally) and an unbelievable rebounding team.”
McNeese State’s Austin Lewis, who entered the game second in the nation in blocked shots, left after just 2 minutes with an ankle injury. Without the 6-8 Lewis clogging up the middle, the Chippewas had free rein to attack the basket.
CMU held a 47-34 rebounding advantage, and scored 18 second-chance points. Braylon Rayson led the Chippewas with eight boards.
“When you talk about our offense, where we are as a program right now, we really can’t control the game and do what we want to do -- yet,” Davis said. “We have to take what the defense gives us.
“And when we drive in, if (the opposing team is) going to stay out on our shooters, we have to finish at the basket; and if they’re going to help (on defense) we have to make the extra pass. And we have to continue to improve our post offense, which isn’t quite there yet.”
CMU picked up in the second half right where it left off in the first and led by as many as 40 points.
“A lot of teams don’t have an answer in how to guard us,” Davis said. “We’re unique in what we do and the skill set that we have right now. If we can improve in other areas of our game so that we can win in different ways, the future of our program is pretty bright.”
The Chippewas made 50 percent of their field goal attempts (32-of-64), including 36 percent of their three-point shots (9-of-25). Simons was 3-of-5 from long range.
Kevin Hardy scored 14 points and Desharick Guidry added 13 for the Cowboys.
Central Michigan is off until Jan. 2 when it hosts Central Penn. CMU opens Mid-American Conference play four nights later at Toledo.
(Courtesy of CMU Athletics/MRO Edit)