In a fast-paced game, the Miami RedHawks (7-9, 3-2 MAC) were able to break Central Michigan's full-court press and outshoot the Chippewa's zone defense en route to a 86-80 victory.
The Chippewas were able to hang tough with the RedHawks for much of the game, thanks to 19 points from guard Chris Fowler and effective foul shooting. But Miami would be able to pull away thanks to a 59 percent shooting from the field, and Central dropped to 0-5 in conference play, the 'Chips seventh loss in eight contests.
With both teams looking for an edge early in the contest Miami and CMU employed an occasional full-court press. Each team found a way to move the ball out of traps, keeping the score close in the early going.
But as both teams began to settle back into zone defenses, it was Miami who was able to outshoot the 1-3-1 zone of Central Michigan. In the first half, the 'Hawks shot 50 percent from the field and 71 percent from behind the arc. Two straight three-pointers and a monstrous dunk from Felder gave the RedHawks a 7-point lead with three minutes until halftime.
With Central Michigan seeking a spark to ignite a comeback, Blake Hibbits canned a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it a 32-29 game at halftime. The Chippewas built on this momentum throughout the break at halftime, and came out on a 5-0 run to begin the second half. With a three-point lead, the 'Chips had new life.
With both teams remarkably accurate from the floor to begin the second half, it looked as if the team with the last shot would win the game. But with just over 12 minutes to play, sophomore guard Geovonie McKnight canned a three-pointer from the extended free throw line to begin a backbreaking 8-0 run for the RedHawks. Central Michigan didn't recover, and couldn't regain the lead for the rest of the night.
Sullivan's 20 points was his highest point total of the season. He scored 17 points two weeks ago when the RedHawks defeated Central Michigan in Mt. Pleasant, 77-70, including the final four points of the contest.
The victory was Miami's sixth in a row against the Chippewas, a streak that dates back to 2009. In that game, Jordan Bitzer sank a jump shot with 32 seconds left to lift Central to a 57-55 victory.
The road for Central Michigan doesn't get much easier. The Chippewas next five opponents (Akron, Ohio, Western Michigan, Kent State and Buffalo) are all .500 or above in-conference.
Miami looks to climb the ladder in the Eastern division as it takes on Bowling Green on Saturday. CMU heads back home to take on Akron, Saturday at 7 p.m..
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