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November 16, 2012

Chippewas win home opener, 76-62

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Zach Saylor scored a career-high 14 points to lead four Central Michigan players in double-figures as the Chippewas overcame an early cold spell to give first-year head coach Keno Davis his first CMU victory, 76-62, over Olivet.

The Chippewas (1-1) began the home opener without a field goal for four minutes and found themselves down 9-0 early, but responded to the tune of a 32-2 run, at one point holding the Comets (0-1) without a point for 6:40. The Comets managed a layup and three-pointer by Garner Small just after the four-minute media time-out but the Chippewas wrapped up the last two minutes of the half with a 10-2 run, taking a 44-20 lead into the locker room.

Central shot 45 percent from the floor before the break and hit 57 percent after snapping its nine-point deficit at the start. Olivet, meanwhile, was held to 9-of-28 shooting and was forced into 15 turnovers.

The Comets slowly chipped away their deficit throughout the second half, actually out-scoring the Chippewas by 10, but Central never gave up its double-digit lead.

"Olivet is extremely well-coached and did some things that bothered us, especially in the second half with some of their zone looks," Davis said. "It's something that will help us in the future. It's always better to be able to learn from wins than losses.

"We could have changed up what we did on defense at times, but with their strength being the three-point shot I just didn't want to all of a sudden get into a three-point contest with them. Credit them for staying at arm's length and being close to making it a game at the end."

In addition to Saylor's 14 points, 10 of which came in the second half, he led the Chippewas with six rebounds - another career best for the senior who earned his first two career starts this week.

Freshman point guard Chris Fowler added 12 points and seven assists while committing just one turnover, and senior guard Kyle Randall and freshman forward Blake Hibbitts each scored 11.

Small led all players with 20 points and 12 rebounds

The Chippewas will travel to Utah next week for the Utah Thanksgiving Tournament in Salt Lake City. Central will start the tournament with a game against Wright State Wednesday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. The next home date for the Chippewas is Wednesday, Nov. 28, against Bradley at 7 p.m.

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