MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – When everything clicks, everything clicks.
It did Tuesday for Central Michigan as the Chippewas rolled to an 88-61 Mid-American Conference victory over Kent State before 2,132 at McGuirk Arena.
“All the games are meaningful wins, but tonight even more so because of the respect that we have for Kent State,” CMU coach Keno Davis said. “That was one of the teams we looked at when these seniors were freshman and said ‘OK, that’s where we want to be.’
“We want to be a team that’s not only competitive, but to be one of the best teams in league.”
The Chippewas played . . .
CMU was outstanding on most every front in building a double-digit lead four minutes into the second half, upping it to 20 with just over nine minutes to play, and winning going away.
Six Chippewas scored in double figures as CMU shot a season-best 60.7 percent from the field (34-of-56).
Josh Kozinski scored 17 points, Chris Fowler and Braylon Rayson had 14 each, Rayshawn Simmons added 13, and Luke Meyerand John Simons had 12 apiece.
Kozinski and Simons finished a combined 9-for-16 from 3-point range as the Chippewas made 48.3 percent of their triple tries.
In the process, Simons tied Robbie Harman for the most career 3-pointers in program history with 233. Simons’ historic bucket came with 12:01 left, and extended CMU’s lead to 17, 61-46, their largest lead of the night to that point.
“I actually took two more threes after that, and they felt pretty good,” said Simons, who was 4-of-6 from long range. “I’m not going to force something to try and get the last one. We were playing really well and a lot of guys were hitting shots at that time.
“It’s cool. Hopefully, it’ll come eventually. First and foremost we want to win the game, and we were playing really well. It’s a good win for us.”
Not to be overshadowed, the Chippewas’ defense was again stellar. The 61 points tied Kent State’s season-low and it was more than 15 below the Golden Flashes’ season average.
It marked the fourth straight game that CMU has held an opponent to at least 15 below its season average.
“Some of the games we’ve won with our defense but haven’t shot it well,” Davis said. “To be able to shoot well and have an outstanding defensive game was a nice combination to see.”
Fowler finished with 10 assists and did not commit a turnover, while Simmons added nine assists. He also hit a season-high three 3-pointers on four attempts.
The Chippewas finished with a season-high 20 assists on 34 field goals, a remarkable 58.8 percent.
“It’s always good to win, it’s good to play well,” said Fowler, who notched his first double-double of the season. “The last couple of games that we won, we haven’t shot well, and we did that today. Felt like we were clicking.”
The Chippewas led, 38-31, at halftime, and outscored the Flashes 50-30 in the second half.
Jimmy Hall scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Kent State (15-7, 6-3), which outrebounded the Chippewas, 35-27.
Central Michigan at Akron (Friday, 8 p.m. ET)
Toledo at Kent State (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)