MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - On a night when one of Central Michigan's all-time greats watched from a court-side seat, Josh Kozinski etched his name into Chippewa lore.
Kozinski hit eight 3-pointers en route to 24 points on Tuesday as the Chippewas downed Northern Illinois 81-67 at McGuirk Arena.
In attendance was . . .
Kaman and others in attendance saw Kozinski become the program's all-time leading 3-point shooter, surpassing Braylon Rayson for the top spot.
"It means so much," said Kozinski, a 6-foot-4 senior who now has 275 career triples That is four more than Rayson, who played at CMU from 2013-17. "We've had some great shooters come through this program. To be surrounded by such great shooters and such good guys, it means a lot."
The eight 3-pointers and 24 points were career highs for Kozinski, who has battled wrist and shoulder injuries this season. He led an outstanding 3-point shooting night by CMU, which knocked down 17 triples, its second-highest total of the season as it improved to 14-8, 3-6.
"It's a mentality," said Kozinski, who was a combined 4 for 19 from 3-point range in the Chippewas' previous six games. "Once you get in the game and you see the ball going through the net one time, you think everything's going in."
CMU's David DiLeo hit four 3-pointers in finishing with 17 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. Cecil Williams added 13 points and Luke Meyer had 12.
Guard Shawn Roundtree Jr. finished with seven assists, tying his season high, and the Chippewas finished with a season-high 20 assists as a team.
Eugene German scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead NIU (10-12, 3-6). Joining him in double figures were Dante Thorpe (17), Levi Bradley (13) and Gairges Daow (10).
The Chippewas jumped to 14-4 lead less than eight minutes into the game, avoiding the slow start that has dogged them so many times since the start of MAC play.
The Huskies stayed within shouting distance, thanks mainly to making nearly 68 percent of their second-half field goal attempts.. However, Central Michigan’s lead remained in double digits for most of the remainder of the game and reached a high of 22, 50-28, on a DiLeo 3-pointer with 16:25 to play.
"We've been talking about starting games better," DiLeo said. "We were focused on playing the full game, 40 minutes. I think we kind of did that tonight."
CMU, which goes to Ohio (9-12, 2-7) on Saturday (3:30 p.m.), had lost four of its last five against NIU.
"Not only are we enjoying the victory, but more so because we knew how good a team Northern Illinois is," CMU coach Keno Davis said. "And even though their record might not be at the top of the league, they're every bit as good as the teams we've been playing.
"The games with Northern Illinois and us, they're always competitive, they're always very physical. You know what you're going to get from them, a very physical, well-coached team, a very talented team. You get a win from them, (then) you better enjoy it because you've earned it."