Central Michigan rebounds, runs past rival Eastern Michigan, 87-60
Central Michigan bounced back from a loss to one rival with a win over another.
Travon Broadway Jr. had 21 points, including five in the span of 3 seconds during a key second-half run, as the Chippewas stormed past rusty Eastern Michigan, 87-60, on Tuesday night at Convocation Center in Ypsilanti.
Broadway made two 3-pointers, including one with 5:11 left. He then cut back toward the basket and stole a lazy Eastern Michigan pass and put in the layup, making it 71-49 and sealing what had been a lopsided affair in Central Michigan's favor even if the scoreboard hadn't shown it.
Meikkel Murray had 18 points and seven rebounds, and Matt Beachler scored 13 for the Chippewas (5-4, 1-1 Mid-American Conference), which bounced back from a Dec. 18 loss at Western Michigan.
Ty Groce had 15 points and 13 rebounds for Eastern Michigan (1-3, 0-2), despite fouling out with nearly five minutes remaining. He played much of the first half with three fouls. JUCO transfer Bryce McBride had 15 points, but on 4-for-14 shooting.
Eastern Michigan had played just one game in the previous 19 days, and no games against a Division I opponent in the previous 24 days. And it showed. The Eagles were shut down for two weeks this month because of COVID-19 issues within the program. They played Division III Olivet, and won, 94-65, on Sunday.
Central Michigan, which lost most of its scoring from last season but still has a veteran roster pieced together by transfers, proved a much more prodigious test.
Eastern Michigan went nearly 6 minutes without a basket in the first half, when the Eagles trailed by as much as 12. The Eagles had missed their first seven 3-pointers of the first half, but late in the half made five straight, including four in the final 3 minutes, 15 seconds, to pull within 33-28 at the break.
But the shooting, hindered by Central Michigan's length, stayed mostly cold in the second half, and the Chippewas' transition offense took advantage with 22 fast-break points. Caleb Huffman had back-to-back fastbreak layups in the second half to start Central Michigan's pull-away.
The Chippewas were able to handle the Eagles' notoriously tricky zone defense. Eastern Michigan had eight steals and forced 17 turnovers, well below season averages. Central Michigan scored more than half its points (44) in the paint.
Central Michigan also won despite going 14-for-26 at the free-throw line. The Chippewas missed their first seven, and were 6-for-17 at one point.
The win was just the third for CMU in the last 11 games against EMU. The teams are scheduled to meet again Jan. 16 in Mt. Pleasant.
Things got chippy late between the teams, with Broadway and Eastern Michigan's Noah Morgan both picking up technicals — and Morgan being ejected — for a heated conversation, which followed a Morgan 3-pointer.
Central Michigan next plays at Akron on Friday — the Chippewas' third straight road game to start MAC play — while Eastern Michigan hosts Kent State on Saturday.