The Chippewas, who play Arkansas Pine Bluff (1-3) Sunday at McGuirk (12:30 p.m.), are now 3-0 for the first time since 2000-01.
John Simons was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field, including 5-of-5 from three-point territory to lead CMU with 17 points, while Luke Meyer and Austin Keel added 10 apiece.
Simmons was the catalyst for much of the night. The nine assists were a career high as he handled the point guard duties when Fowler went to the bench early with two fouls.
"I think you can see part of the reason that (Simmons) was named a co-captain with Chris Fowler," CMU coach Keno Davis said. "You see his play and that he's a co-captain, but that wasn't the first reason. The first reason is because of his leadership ability and about (him) being a (good) teammate."
And his defense!
Simmons was assigned to guard sharpshooting guard Zarko Valjarevic, who entered the game having made 50 percent of his three-point tries and was the Black Bears' leading scorer at 13 points per game.
Valjarevic, a senior who hit nearly 44 percent of his triples last season, finished with just three points in 27 minutes, making 1-of-4 of his three-point attempts. That triple came 45 seconds into the game.
"To be able to guard their best shooter, as good a shooter as we'll see all season, and be up in him the entire game and to have nine assists to two turnovers," Davis said of Simmons. "For him to come and make offensive plays as well is a real bright spot for us.
"You cannot give (Valjarevic) an inch, and (Simmons) didn't."
With Fowler in foul trouble, Simmons seized on the opportunity to play quarterback.
"I just got comfortable, I got in the rhythm and coach trusted me out there; he trusted me to lead the team," said Simmons, who logged a team-high 32 minutes. "I took the pressure and tried to answer.
"Coach put a lot pressure on me in practice about guarding (Valjarevic), and I just wanted to show him that I could guard some of the best players in the country and be the guy who shuts down the other team's best player."
The Chippewas held Maine (0-3) to 37 percent shooting from the floor, including 3-of-18 from three-point range. They also held a 37-27 rebounding edge. Maine's 48 points were 23 below its season average.
CMU, meanwhile, caught fire both inside and out. Eight of Meyer's 10 points came on four dunks and the Chippewas made 50 percent (13-of-26) of their three-point attempts. Josh Kozinski hit three triples to finish with nine points.
"I think it really helps get the crowd involved right off the bat," Simons said of Meyer's dunks. "(Meyer) might have had more dunks in the first 10 minutes (of the game) than we might have had in the last two years. We've had some great student sections these last couple of games, and we love that. That helps us want to play harder."
An Austin Stewart triple with 8 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the first half gave CMU its first double-digit lead, 25-13. Maine never got closer than 10 the rest of the way. The lead was 23, 44-21, by halftime. Maine never threatened in the final 20 minutes.
"I think the thing about our team is we're so tough to guard because of so many players are versatile enough to shoot the three-point shot and to put the ball on the floor," Davis said, adding that the versatile array of weapons stresses an opponent's defense. "To be able to knock down those threes puts a lot of pressure on anybody who has to play us.
"You have to decide as a coach, are you going to defend the three-point line or are you going to defend the basket?"
Valparaiso topped Pine Bluff, 59-46, in Friday's other tournament opener. Alec Peters scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Crusaders. Marcel Mosley scored 10 points for Pine Bluff (1-3).
Valparaiso (3-1) will play Maine Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
(Courtesy of CMU Athletics/MRO edit)