It wasn't convincing, and it wasn't pretty, but it was a win. The Chippewas come into the new season as the favorites to win another MAC Championship, however it is clear that coach Sue Guevara and staff have some adjustments to make going forward.
CMU opened their season against pseudo-MAC opponent UMass for the second consecutive year. What was a blowout last year however, was a much closer game this time around. A year ago the Chips went to Amherst and beat up on the Minutewomen 105-61. A myriad of turnovers and mental errors on the part of CMU kept the score close for the majority of this game.
Superstar and reigning MAC Player of the Year Crystal Bradford led all scorers with 17 points, however the best Mid-Major player according to ESPN showed her occasional erratic side by turning the ball over six times.
Turnovers were the norm for both sides Sunday afternoon in McGuirk Arena. Central Michigan finished the game with 20 turnovers on 91 possessions.
It was a stretch of just over three minutes late in the second half which made the difference in this game. With just over eight minutes to go in the game, the Chippewas went on a 17-2 run led by none other than Bradford. The run electrified the fans and the team and gave the Chips a 64-48 lead with less than five minutes to go.
Bradford recorded ten points, three assists, and two steals during the run which shows that, even on an off day, she is still one of the most dangerous and explosive players in the country. The Minutewomen narrowed the gap during garbage time, but after the late run made by the Chips the outcome was never in doubt.
Kerby Tamm will be the new 3-point specialist for the Chips following the graduation of Niki DiGuilio and she finished her first game in this new role with 13 points. Sophomore forward Jewel "Bam" Cotton was the most consistent contributor for Central and she finished the season opener with twelve points and eleven rebounds for her first career double-double.
In her post-game press conference coach Guevara said, "We can not have this type of lackluster performance against the next team we're going to play, or we will get run off the floor." The team to which she is referring is the 11th ranked team in the country, the Kentucky Wildcats. Tipoff is next Saturday at 8 PM in McGuirk Arena.