CMU Beats Saginaw Valley, 70-60

Central Michigan University struggled to get going in the first half against Division II Saginaw Valley State University Saturday afternoon at Rose Arena. The Chippewas outscored the Cardinals 45-29 in the second half though and coasted to a 70-60 victory.

It wasn't a pretty win for Central Michigan, but in the end, a 70-60 win just the same against feisty Division II foe, Saginaw Valley.

"We're a dangerous team at times and at other times we're not," CMU head coach Jay Smith said. "It's like opening a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. Saginaw Valley was playing with everything to gain and nothing to lose."

In the first half Saturday, both teams struggled offensively early-on. The game was scoreless nearly three minutes in before Tony Bowne drilled a 3-pointer.

The Cardinals (3-1) fought back though, and on the strength of six 3-pointers, three of them by guard Rojelio Grady, SVSU took a 31-25 lead into halftime.

"We knew they'd come out tough," said CMU point guard Giordan Watson. "We didn't come out with the intensity level like we did against Valparaiso. We just need to go out and play hard all the time."

In the second half, the Chippewas (2-1) took charge, taking a 34-33 lead with 16:35 remaining on a put-back by center Steve Harris.

"The play of Steve Harris in the second half ignited us," Smith said.

Harris scored six points and grabbed six rebounds while blocking one shot in the game.

Ultimately though, CMU won this game at the free throw line, converting 39-of-47 attempts.

With 9:47 remaining, the Chippewas entered the double-bonus. Following Kevin Nelson's two free throws, the Chippewas took a 45-44 lead they would never relinquish.

"Give Saginaw Valley its due," Smith said, "they'll be a factor in the GLIAC (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Atheltic Conference). I thought they matched our quickness well on the perimeter."

For the Chippewas, that quickness on the perimeter begins with the play of the freshman, Watson, who scored 15 points including 9-of-10 from the line, and dished out three assists.

"I'm still learning," said Watson, who spent last season at Bridgton Academy in Maine. "With every game I see some improvement."

Joining Watson in double-figures scoring were Tony Bowne (18 points) and Robert Sevalia, who came off the bench to score 14 points.

"Rob gave us a huge spark," Smith said.

For the Cardinals, Sydney McDaniel scored 14 points, followed by Grady with 11 and Kenneth Nether with 10.

Next up for CMU is its Mid-American Conference opener at Kent State University. The Chippewas and Golden Flashes tip-off this Wednesday, Dec. 1, beginning at 7 p.m.

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