YPSILANTI, Mich. - Despite arguably the best performance of senior forward Olivier Mbaigoto's career, Central Michigan could not overcome an early deficit and fell to rival Eastern Michigan 58-52 in Ypsilanti.
Mbaigoto would finish the game with 18 points and 14 rebounds, including an amazing seven offensive rebounds. Senior guard Kyle Randall would add 13 points and Finis Craddock would have a breakout game with 12 points on 4-5 from downtown.
But for the first time this season, the youth of the Chippewas was really on display as the rest of the team combined for just nine points. Austin Keel, John Simons, Derrick Richardson, Austin Stewart and Spencer Krannitz combined to shoot 0-14 from the field, and it was a poor shooting effort all-around for CMU.
The Chippewas shot just 32% for the game, including a 6-26 (23%) from beyond the arc. To make matters worse, they committed 24 fouls and both Chris Fowler and Blake Hibbitts would foul out of the game.
Eastern Michigan used some unusually hot shooting to spark a run in the final five minutes of the first half. Leading 19-17 with 4:49 remaining, the Eagles would go on an 11-2 run to close out the half as guards Derek Thompson and Jalen Ross knocked down three pointers. With a 30-19 edge at halftime, EMU would never look back as they used their stifling defense to thwart a CMU offense that averaged 70 points per game heading in.
With the Chippewas limited in the front court due to the loss of Zach Saylor, EMU forwards Glenn Bryant and Jamell Harris would take advantage. The duo combined for 21 points, 10 rebounds and 8 blocks, and their athleticism bothered CMU shooters all over the court.
CMU was able to keep the game close until the end due to 17 EMU turnovers and a 20-34 mark from the free throw line, including several misses down the stretch. But for any fan of either school, this was a typical matchup. In the last three years, EMU and CMU have combined to average just 104.5 points per game in the regular season, or roughly 52 points each.
Central Michigan falls to 8-8 overall, and just 1-2 in MAC play. The Chippewas will be in action next on Saturday when they host 7-7 Ball State at McGuirk Arena.
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