A near-capacity crowd of 5,046 helped the Chippewas celebrate 100 years of basketball and for one half, Central Michigan played outstanding against the MAC East leading Golden Flashes.
However, Kent State exploded in the second half, moving out to a 58-40 lead with 9:24 to go. The closest CMU got after that was 10 points at 69-59 with 1:57 to play.
"We played 30 minutes of good basketball," CMU head coach Jay Smith said. "Their seniors stepped up in the second half like seniors do in this league."
Those seniors were 7-foot center John Edwards (14 points) and guard Eric Haut (14 points), who scored 15 of KSU's 22 points during the team's dominant run to open the second half. Haut hit three three-pointers and Edwards contributed six points on three dunks.
"I got some open looks in the second half and knocked them down," Haut said.
Kent State head coach Jim Christian was pleased with the play of his team in the second half.
"Give CMU credit, they took us out of some things in the first half," Christian said. "We stepped up at the defensive end in the second half. In the first 25 possessions, I think we stopped CMU on 20 of them."
For CMU, Gerrit Brigitha and Kevin Nelson each contributed 17 points and Tony Bowne added nine. Defensively though, Smith wants his team to pick up its intensity.
"Why did Kent State get all those open looks in the second half?" Smith asked. "My biggest thing right now is teaching a young team how to fight hard (for 60 minutes).
"At one point our backbone has to connect to our neck. We've got to play better at the defensive end."
The Chippewas were outrebounded by the taller Golden Flashes 41-24, and also committed 21 turnover to KSU's 17.
The loss was CMU's 11th in a row, dropping its overall record to 3-18 and 0-11 in MAC action. Kent State remains atop the MAC East with a 10-1 conference slate and a 17-2 mark for the season.
It was a festive atmosphere at Rose Arena. The near capacity crowd re-enacted the famous toilet paper toss before the game, made famous during the 1980s when Dan Majerle starred for the Chippewas. Majerle returned to CMU along with such other players as Ben Poquette and Ben Kelso to help celebrate 100 years of CMU basketball.
The Chippewas wore gold throw-back uniforms similar to those worn by Kelso and Poquette in the 1970s era. They seemed to be a big hit with the players.
"I really like them," Nelson said, "they're the best looking uniforms we've played in all year."
CMU returns to action Monday night at Rose Arena in another MAC contest, hosting preseason MAC West favorite Northern Illinois University at 8 p.m. The game will be televised on FOX Sports Detroit and FOX Sports Chicago.
Golden Flashes Dominate CMU in the End, 76-61
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