MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Marcus Keene was the name on the marquee, again.
Hard to argue with that. After all, a 36-point night from the nation’s leading scorer on his home court is bound to bring some notoriety.
Yet it was the how and the who that made game eight of the 2016-17 Central Michigan men’s basketball team’s season – a 91-81 nonconference victory Tuesday at McGuirk Arena over William & Mary – most gratifying.
“I think the team that . . .
Keene, CMU’s junior guard, tied his career-high with 36 points, 23 of which came in the second half as the Chippewas (6-2) won their second straight game. They play host to Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-5) on Saturday (4:30 p.m.).
The Chippewas trailed 45-42 at halftime, then hit the gas in the second half. Braylon Rayson added 23 points for CMU, 13 of which came in the final 20 minutes, during which the Chippewas outscored the Tribe, 49-36.
Josh Kozinski added 15 points and David DiLeo had 10 for the Chippewas. Kozinski made five of his seven 3-point attempts. Cecil Williams grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds for CMU.
A Keene jumper with 15:44 remaining broke a 49-49 tie and ignited a 13-3 CMU spurt. DiLeo closed the run with a jumper to make it 64-52 with just under 12 minutes to play. Keene and Rayson combined for CMU’s’ 11 other points during the surge.
“Honestly I feel like I’m in a rhythm right now, and I want to stay there,” Keene said. “My teammates are finding me, and I’m also creating for myself.
“The first half, I was taking a lot of forced jumpshots and my coach told me to get to the paint and I could open up for myself and open up for my teammates. That’s what I did.”
The Chippewas bumped their advantage to as many as 19 points and won going away against a team that came in 3-2, with the losses coming to No. 3 Duke and to No. 12 Louisville.
Omar Prewitt scored 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead William & Mary.
“Going forward, that game will help prepare us for other games because of how tough they were in a short amount of time to get ready for,” Davis said. “It’s awfully tough to play the tempo that we do. We’re kind of built to be able to be a second-half team. Playing as many guys as we do gives us that opportunity.”