January 9, 2011

CMU falls to WMU in OT

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Trey Zeigler scored a game-high 22 points in the Mid-American Conference opener, including a layup that sent the game into overtime, but Central Michigan fell 63-56 at Western Michigan despite a solid defensive effort.

The Chippewas (3-11, 0-1 MAC) trailed the Broncos (8-6, 1-0 MAC), 52-45, with 3:08 remaining in regulation after Demetrius Ward hit his only three-point field goal of the game, but Zeigler hit a floater in with 2.8 seconds to cap a 7-0 CMU run that sent the game to overtime.

Western's Ward scored the first basket of overtime and knocked down a free throw at the 2:41 mark to give the Broncos a 55-52 lead, capping a stretch from the second half and overtime in which he scored 12 straight Bronco points.

CMU senior Amir Rashid knocked down a 10 foot jumper to bring the Chippewas within one, 55-54, but WMU responded with an 8-2 run to end the game, outscoring CMU 11-4 in the extra session.

"When I look at the stat sheet, it was the best defensive performance of the year," head coach Ernie Zeigler said. "We did two of the three things that you need to do to win in a hostile environment on the road in MAC play. Unfortunately, we weren't able to take advantage of our defensive performance due to our inefficiencies on offense."

The first half was one of runs for both teams as the Broncos jumped out early, 16-6, on an 8-0 run before the Chippewas responded with a 10-0 run of their own to tie the game. Back-to-back fast break layups by the Maroon and Gold, first by Amir Rashid from Finis Craddock and then Jevon Harden from Zeigler, put the score at 24-22, but WMU's Nate Hutcheson cut backdoor on the CMU defense for a dunk to give the Broncos a 26-22 halftime lead.

The Chippewas took their first lead of the game at the 16:02 mark, 30-29 on a layup by Zeigler and later extended the lead to 34-29 on back-to-back jumpers by Zeigler and senior Jalin Thomas for their largest lead of the game. The team's two leading scorers combined to score 12 straight points to start the second half in which CMU outscored their rivals 12-3.

The two teams exchanged the lead or were tied 13 different times from the 14:46 to the 5:22 mark before Western went on a 7-0 run to gain a 52-45 lead prior to CMU's run to end regulation.

"The big thing for us was getting stops and getting grimy," Zeigler said. "We've gotten away from that, especially in the last few weeks. We have an opportunity to put ourselves in a position to compete at the top of our division. Hopefully the effort defensively will give us something to build on moving forward."

Zeigler pulled down six rebounds to go with his game-high 22 points. Thomas finished the game with 11 points and six rebounds.
The Chippewas outrebounded the Broncos, 44-41, including a 19-11 edge on the offensive glass.

Western Michigan was led by Ward's 21 points. The junior finished the game with one more free throw made than the entire CMU team, going 12-for-14 while CMU went 11-for-18. Mike Douglas scored 11 points for the Broncos, while Nate Hutcheson and Juwan Howard Jr., each scored 10 points respectively to give WMU four players in double figures.

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