MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Senior forward Olivier Mbaigoto led Central Michigan to an 82-39 victory over University of Michigan-Dearborn in the team's final exhibition game of the season. Mbaigoto became the first Chippewa to record a double-double this season, scoring a season-high 20 points and grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Chippewas pulled ahead thanks to senior guard Kyle Randall laying it in just over four minutes into the game, despite being fouled. There was no looking back from that point on, as Central Michigan went on a 20-5 run over the next 10 minutes. Freshman forward John Simons added two of his eight points with just over four minutes remaining in the half to extend the Chippewas' lead to 20.
Central Michigan continued to stretch its lead out of the locker room with seven quick points by Mbaigoto, including a deep three-pointer to put the Chippewas up 46-21, just two minutes into the half. Freshman guard Austin Stewart ignited the crowd in McGuirk Arena late in the game, stealing the ball from UM-Dearborn guard Marcquise Morgan and taking it coast-to-coast for the dunk. Junior guard Luke Wiest gave the Chippewas their largest advantage of the night, making a three-pointer from junior guard Rick Rowse to put Central Michigan up by 44, 82-38.
"This game was important to us to be able to schedule," said head coach Keno Davis. "I felt like any kind of rust that we may have or anything that we may need to work through to get ready for (Mid-American Conference) play, we would rather have that worked through in an exhibition game than to have a two-week layoff before we open conference play."
Mbaigoto's game-highs in points and rebounds came in just 14 minutes of play, including only five minutes in the second half. Freshman Spencer Krannitz added a career-high 12 points, knocking down 4 of 8 three-point attempts. Freshman guard Derrick Richardson Jr. and Randall each scored 11 points, and both converted five free throws. Freshman guard Chris Fowler had a game-high seven steals.
Junior center Jeff Fick led UM-Dearborn with 11 points. Sophomore forward Danny O'Donohue had a team high four rebounds to go with his 10 points.
The Chippewas outscored the Wolves 40-16 in the paint, with 33 of their 82 points coming from the frontcourt players. Central Michigan took advantage of 19 team steals, scoring 35 points off of 24 UM-Dearborn turnovers.
Central Michigan (7-6) will open up MAC play next week against Bowling Green (5-8) inside McGuirk Arena on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
"Our guys are excited, we know now that every time we step onto the court the competition isn't going to intimidate us," said Davis. "After playing at Michigan and against other power conference schools and coming through and improving, our guys are looking forward to the test. Early in the season I don't think we could have said that."
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