MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich.- The backcourt tandem of Marcus Keene and Braylon Rayson combined for 55 points as Central Michigan defeated Bowling Green 82-76 Tuesday at McGuirk Arena.
Keene, the nation’s top scorer, tallied 28 points on 7 of 20 shooting, while adding 11 points from the free throw line. The junior transfer was coming off a Division I-best 50 point performance Saturday against Miami (OH).
Rayson, meanwhile, registered . . .
CMU connected on 22 of 26 from the charity stripe, while also only giving the ball away nine times. Freshman forward David DiLeo added 14 points (8 rebounds) off the bench in 26 minutes of action. Luke Meyer scored 7 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Two DiLeo free throws moved Central Michigan in front, 12-11, with 15:11 left in the first period and the home team expanded its advantage to as many as 14 points before taking a 42-30 lead to the locker room.
"We gave them too much space, and too much respect in the first half, and that was the difference," said head coach Michael Huger. "You see what they do on tape, and the numbers that they have, and I thought our guys were a little bit intimidated by that to start the game. As we went on, we picked it up. We weren't afraid to go out and challenge them.
It was a game-high 15 points lead at 15:57 before the Falcons began to chip away at the Chippewas advantage. Bowling Green pulled to within four points, 68-64, at the 4:20 mark, but that was as close as the Falcons would get.
Central Michigan put the game away by hitting 9 of 10 from the free throw line.
“For us to be able to win on an off-shooting night, to be able to win with our defense, is a great sign moving forward,” CMU coach Keno Davis said. “We’ve been working almost completely on our defense and our rebounding in practice. … It’s “not as much fun for our players having defense and rebounding practice … (but) we know how important the defense is for us to improve. I think you saw some strides in that. The idea is to be a little bit better each game, each day that you come out, and I think if you look back a couple weeks ago defensively and rebounding, we’ve definitely made some improvement in those areas.”
Rodrick Caldwell scored 19 points off the bench to lead Bowling Green. Wes Alcegaire added 16 points, while Damajeo Wiggins had a spectacular night on the boards. His 22 rebounds were the most caroms collected by a Falcon player in 43 years. Cornelius Cash also had 22 rebounds for BGSU in a Falcons game against San Diego State in 1974.
"[Demajeo] did a great job on the boards,” Huger said. “He played 31 minutes, and the pace was very fast for him, but he was able to keep up. He was able to rebound like a mad man tonight, and now the next challenge will be doing it again. We'll see on Saturday."
Bowling Green will host Ohio on Saturday (4 p.m. ET). Central Michigan is on the road at Kent State Saturday (noon).