Chalk this one up to a team effort.
This was the game that Chippewa fans were hoping to see when this young season started. This was the type of game people in Mt Pleasant were hoping to see from this team. Chippewa fans will be falling asleep tonight with visions of Chris Kaman in their head, as this win marks the first 2-0 start to the season since the 2002-03 season, the same year as the CMU's most recent MAC Championship.
CMU jumped out to an early lead against Youngstown State. Contributions from freshmen Luke Meyer and Milos Cabarkapa highlighted another fast start for the Chips as they jumped out to an early 14-5 lead at the thirteen minute mark.
Just as was the case against Saginaw Valley State in the exhibition game, the Chips started fast, but then became sluggish and allowed their opponent back into the game. The Penguins quickly went on a 9-0 run to tie the game at fourteen apiece. CMU would retake the lead around the eight minute mark of the first half and would not look back from then on.
Central led 36-25 at halftime thanks to efforts from several different players, but it was Meyer, the 6-foot-11 true freshman, who led all Chippewas with seven points and five rebounds. Chris Fowler and Austin Stewart were close behind with six points each.
Youngstown State would get as close at six points behind the Chippewas, but solid defense, decent shooting, and great rebounding were enough to keep the Penguins at arm's length throughout the second half.
Meyer was all over the floor this game, but did find himself in some foul trouble. The freshman big fouled out of the game with 2:34 remaining in the game just one rebound shy of his first career double-double. Meyer finished with thirteen points and collected nine boards.
YSU would not make it close in the closing minutes and the Chippewas were able to dribble out the clock and send the Penguins packing. The 75-63 keeps the Chips undefeated on this young season.
The usual suspects made significant contributions for the Chippewas as well. Chris Fowler led CMU scorers with sixteen points and dished out eight assists. The biggest little guy in the MAC Braylon Rayson added twelve, and the newly bearded John Simons finished the game with nine points and a career high twelve rebounds.
Rebounding was the key to this victory for the Chippewas, and it will continue to be the most important element of their game going forward. CMU dominated the glass this game. They out rebounded the Penguins 52-30, and even more impressive was the 15-3 advantage on offensive rebounds.
Rebounding and a strong inside presence had been missing from the Chippewas during Keno Davis' first two seasons with the Maroon and Gold, but this new freshman class featuring big men like Meyer and DaRohn Scott have already shown that they can make significant contributions right away.
It's become a tradition during CMU home games that a local apartment complex offers free rent for a year to a student picked from the crowd if they can sink a half-court shot. During Davis' first two seasons as head coach no student had ever made the shot. Through the first two games this season, TWO students have hit the half court shot. If that is not a sign that the times are a-changing for CMU basketball, then I don't know what is.