OXFORD, Ohio -- Consistency paid off for the Central Michigan Chippewas Tuesday as they pulled away in the second half for a 68-51 win over Miami at Millett Hall.
It was the second straight win for CMU, which last won in Oxford back on Feb. 27, 1991. It was also the first back-to-back wins against Miami since 1987-88.
Central Michigan is still trying to forge the form that took it to the MAC tournament finals last year. But after finishing 23-9, the Chippewas were hit by injuries early. One key loss was senior guard and catalyst Chris Fowler, a 2014-15 First Team All-MAC member. He missed seven games to start this season, and CMU dropped five of those contests.
With Tuesday’s victory, Central Michigan raised this year’s record to 11-9 overall, 4-3 MAC.Miami, meanwhile, is . . .
Given MU’s offensive struggles (last in the MAC) and the Chippewas use of a three-guard offense, the RedHawks faced a difficult matchup. Miami, however, managed to hang with the visitors through the first period and trailed by just three, 35-32 at the break.
MU stayed close by connecting on 12 of 28 (42.9%) overall and 6 of 11 (54.4%) from beyond the arc. That was two more field goals (one more trey) than Central Michigan, which hit 45.5 percent from the field and 50 percent on threes.
The Chippewas earned their lead at the foul line, hitting all 10 opportunities. Miami got just two free throw opportunities and made both.
A Chris Bryant layup opened second half scoring and pulled Miami to within one point, 35-34, at 18:26. Central, however, went on a 15-2 run capped by Fowler’s “and-one” three at 13:54.
The spurt gave CMU a 14-point lead (50-36). Miami cut it in half two times, with the last being 52-45 with 11:00 left. That was as close as the hosts could get, and CMU gradually pulled away to its final 17-point margin.
Central Michigan managed to nearly duplicate its first half field goal percentage, hitting one more field goal while connecting on 45.8 percent in the second half. Miami, meanwhile, dropped off to just 31 percent (9-of 29) from the floor and 1-of-8 on treys.
"I thought our guys came out of the locker room in that second half, felt pretty confident about what they needed to do and obviously played pretty well doing it,” Davis said.
Ultimately, the Chippewas’ biggest advantage was at the charity stripe. MU did not take a foul shot in the second half and finished 2-of-2 from the line on the night. Central Michigan made it to the line 10 more times after intermission and finished the contest hitting 18-of-20. The 16-point difference nearly accounted for the 17-point winning margin.
Miami had two players in double figures. Sophomore forward Rod Mills led the way with 13 points, nine coming on 3-of-9 from beyond the arc. Senior guard Geovonie McKnight scored 10 points.
Bryant had a game-high nine rebounds, helping the RedHawks own a 34-29 rebounding advantage. However, CMU posted lopsided advantages in second chance points (14-4) and points off turnovers (10-0).
NEXT: Miami hosts Northern Illinois Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET). Central Michigan is home against Bowling Green (4:30 p.m. ET).