It was the Chippewas’ sixth consecutive victory as they improved to 21-5, 11-4 in the MAC. They lead the West Division by one game over Toledo (18-9, 10-4), which was scheduled to play host to Northern Illinois on Tuesday. That, however was postponed to Wednesday because of a water main break on the Toledo campus.
“I think our guys have realized that they’ve exceeded expectations by so much that they don’t feel that pressure anymore when they come to games,” CMU coach Keno Davis said. “Anything that we do the rest of the year is gravy on the season, and yet we want to accomplish that much more.”
Simons and Kozinski, who entered the game ranked one and two, respectively, in the MAC in three-point field goal percentage, went a combined 13-for-23 from three-point territory as CMU made 16 triples (on 37 attempts) on the night, their season-high for a road game. Simons hit a career-high seven triples, while Kozinski equaled his career-best with six. His point total was one shy of his career-high.
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Austin Stewart added 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Chippewas, while Rayshawn Simmons dished out 10 assists. Simons added seven boards.
Mike Talley scored 16 points, Karrington Ward had 14, and Raven Lee added 10 for the Eagles.
The Chippewas outrebounded the Eagles, 35-28, and they won going away despite the fact that leading scorer Chris Fowler managed just three points on 1-of-7 shooting. Fowler finished with seven assists and just one turnover. CMU committed just nine turnovers.
“What we talked about the most coming into this game, along with transition defense, was rebounding,” Davis said. “Not only to out-rebound them by seven, but to get 14 offensive rebounds … I give our guys credit for great effort throughout 40 minutes tonight.”
CMU missed its first eight three-point attempts, but made seven of its next 14 to overcome an early 8-2 deficit and seize a 33-28 halftime lead.
The lead was eight, 50-42, when Kozinski drilled a three-pointer with 11:41to play, touching off a 19-6 surge that ended with a Simons triple with 6:11 left.
Simons and Kozinski combined to nail five triples in the spurt. When the dust settled, the Chippewas were up, 69-48, and well on their way to their first victory in the Convocation Center since February, 2012. With the victory, CMU swept the regular-season series with the Eagles (17-11, 6-9).
Central Michigan at Northern Illinois (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET)
Ball State at Toledo (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)
(Courtesy of CMU Athletics/MRO Edit)