It wasn’t how they drew it up, but the Central Michigan Chippewas picked up its tenth win of the season and stayed unbeaten at home in their 90-82 victory over the Chicago State Cougars on Thursday night. The stars of the Chips (10-3) didn’t have a good night shooting the ball as Braylon Rayson and Marcus Keene combined for 10-37 from the field but Josh Kozinski carried the load with 20 points off of 6-11 from three-point land and seven rebounds. Meanwhile, Fred Sims Jr. of the Cougs (4-12) went off for 27 points, eight boards, and three assists as Clemmye Owens V and Trayvon Palmer each tallied 17 points on the night.
CMU was able to wrestle control of the game away from Chicago State at the midway point in the first half with a 23-15 lead following a 12-0 run the featured a pair of Kozinski treys. The Cougars kept within striking distance for the rest of the half as the Chippewas took a 47-43 lead into the break. Kozinski hit three three-point attempts in the half while David DiLeo recorded eight points in the opening stanza.
An 8-0 run by CSU tied the game 56-56 with 15:03 left in regulation as Sims Jr. and Owens V were responsible for the Cougar scoring during the stretch. The two teams traded blows as the Chips had a 68-61 lead midway through the half, only to give it up a couple of minutes later. DiLeo nailed two huge threes to give CMU an 81-76 advantage with 4:20 left, and a subsequent layup by Keene gave the home team all the edge it needed as the Cougs ran out of gas late.
Despite making hay at the free throw line going 19-25, Central Michigan was outrebounded 46-40 by a team that has the most losses in the WAC so far this season, which ought to be a concern if you’re a CMU fan. Also, it’s debatable whether the Chips’ offense will be sustainable in MAC play as reliant as they are on the three-point shot (37 attempts vs. CSU), but we’ll wait and see if their shooters can be consistent for the duration.
The Chippewas have a huge MAC opener Tuesday when they hit the road to take on Eastern Michigan at 7 p.m.