Central Michigan built their entire season on the ability to hit three-point shots. They didn't earn the nickname #3MU for shooting a bunch of 17-footers. Unfortunately, relying so much on the deep shot can either be feast or famine. Most of the time the Chips hit a solid percentage of threes, but tonight wasn't the night.
CMU went just 6-23 (26 percent) from beyond the arc Tuesday night in Ruston, Louisiana, contributing mightily to a 89-79 loss at the hands of the Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech, winners of now 17-straight on their home floor, move on to face the winner of the Texas A&M-Montana game.
After getting out to a quick 12-6 start, CMU lost their shooting touch. Over a seven minute period in the middle of the first half, Louisiana Tech went on a 19-6 run to take a 25-18 lead behind two straight three-pointers from Jacobi Boykins. The Bulldogs went on another small run to go up 12 with four minutes to go before halftime. That lead eventually became 14 after a Raheem Appleby three but Braylon Rayson cut the halftime lead to 12 with a bucket at the end of the half.
Rayson started the second half on fire, scoring the first six Chippewa points of the half and 13 of their first 17 with Chris Fowler scoring the other four. Louisiana Tech wouldn't let up though, as they continued to hit shots on their end of the court. The Chips got the lead down to six at 50-44 with just over three and a half minutes gone in the second half, but an 8-2 mini-run by Louisiana Tech bounced it back to 12.
The closest Central Michigan got was a four-point deficit at 62-58 with 10:23 to go. The Bulldogs were having none of that, as they answered with a 13-4 run, putting them up 13. The Chips never got within ten the rest of the game as their three-point shooting was what hampered their comeback hopes.
Guard play was key the entire game for Central Michigan. Fowler lead the Chips with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists on 8-18 shooting. Rayson also got to the 20-point mark, but needed 24 shots to do so. Rayshawn Simmons had a nice game with 18 points.
Appleby came up here as expected for the Bulldogs, netting 22 points including a 4-8 showing from beyond the arc. Boykins scored 18 points off of the bench and only missed one shot the entire game. While the Bulldogs didn't do well from the free throw line (just 60 percent), they made up for it in other areas shooting 57 percent from the field and 58 percent from beyond the arc.
Looking ahead to next season, Central Michigan only loses one senior - Austin Keel - and returns 93 percent of their scoring. They'll likely be the preseason favorite and will have to deal with expectations they haven't dealt with as a program in a long time. It was a sour end to a fantastic season, but CMU can hold their heads high because of all their accomplishments this year.