Behind a 43-point effort from four freshmen, No. 5 seeded Central Michigan edged No. 8 seeded Ohio 58-55 Wednesday afternoon to advance to the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals.
The Chippewas were down by one with 4:05 to play when freshman guard Crystal Bradford snagged an offensive rebound, caromed it off the backboard and through the basket to put her team ahead 54-53. A bucket from freshman forward Jas’Mine Bracy and another by Bradford gave the Chippewas just enough to hold off the aggressive Bobcats.
For the fourth consecutive season, the Chippewas advanced to the tournament quarterfinals, and fifth-year coach Sue Guevara said her team found their groove after struggling for most of the second half.
“We survived,” Guevara said, according to cmuchippewas.com. “I thought we were a little flat in the second half and struggled offensively, but I’ll tell you what, our kids gutted it out. We had some key rebounds when we needed [them] and some easy put-backs. It is a good win for our young team and this is the type of experience our freshmen need to have.
Bradford was the most explosive player offensively for the Chippewas, recording her eighth double-double of the season by scoring 17 points and coming down with 11 boards. Fellow freshman guard Jessica Green added 16 points and Bracy tallied 10 points. The Chippewas shot over 40 percent for the game as opposed to Ohio’s 33.9 shooting percentage.
With 0:06 remaining in Northern Illinois’ second-round game against Akron, senior forward Kim Davis drove through a crowded offensive lane, grabbed a missed shot from teammate Courtney Shelton and banked it off the backboard to give the Huskies a 61-60 victory over the Zips on Wednesday afternoon.
“They hurt us on the offensive glass and that’s how we won–Kim Davis gets the put-back,” coach Kathi Bennett said, according to niuhuskies.com. “I thought that was pretty special. We never stopped believing, even when we lost the lead. We just had to execute.”
The Zips had a chance to win the game in the waning seconds, but Jasmine Mushington’s desperation shot was too long as the buzzer sounded.
The win was Northern Illinois’ first two-win appearance in the MAC Tournament since 2007, and it now has a chance to upset No. 3 seeded Toledo Thursday afternoon.
“The good thing is, [is] we just played Toledo,” Bennett said. “We have a fresh [scouting report] and know what their tendencies are.”
The Huskies will tip off with the Rockets at 2:30 p.m. eastern time Thursday.