Sefton Barrett led three Chippewas in double figures scoring with a game-high 23 points. His blocked shot on a potential game-tying three-point attempt in the closing seconds secured Central Michigan's 67-62 victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay (1-3, 0-0 Horizon League).
"There were two young teams battling tonight and it was an interesting game," CMU head coach Jay Smith. "The difference for us was about how we played at the defensive end."
The Chippewas (1-1, 0-0 Mid-American Conference) took control of a seesaw affair with seven minutes remaining in the first half. Trailing UWGB 16-13, CMU went on a 18-4 run, keyed by four consecutive 3-pointers by Eddie Spencer (2) and Giordan Watson (2). The Chippewas built an insurmountable 31-20 lead over the Phoenix and took a 35-26 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
CMU led the entire second half but did get into some foul trouble. Justin Blevins, starting at center in place of the injured Drew Walker, picked up three personal fouls in the first 1:20 of the second half. He eventually fouled out with 5:41 remaining and the Chippewas leading, 56-48.
The Phoenix then went on a 5-0 run to trim CMU's lead to 56-53 with just over 4:00 minutes remaining. UWGB continued to whittle away at the CMU lead until it was down to just one, 63-62, with 17 seconds left following a three-point play by Ryan Evanochko.
Watson hit a pair of clutch free throws to push it back up to three points, 65-62. Following a UWGB timeout, Barrett blocked an Evanochko 3-point attempt to send the game into overtime.
CMU secured the rebound and a flagrant foul was called with one-tenth of a second left sending Barrett to the line for the game's final tally.
"This win means a lot," Barrett said. "It shows us at what level we have to compete to win in the MAC."
Barrett scored 18 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, including a thunderous alley-oop dunk that electrified the Rose Rowdies student section.
Watson and Spencer joined Barrett in double-figures scoring for the Chippewas with 16 and 11 points respectively. Watson also contributed seven assists and three rebounds, while Spencer was credited with six boards. Starting at power forward, true freshman Chris Kellermann added eight points and a team-high seven rebounds in 34 minutes.
For UWGB, Evanochko scored 17 points and Ryan Tillema added 14. Terry Evans grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for the Phoenix.
CMU turned the ball over just 10 times and shot 46 percent from the floor compared to 39 percent for UWGB.
"This win gives us confidence," Smith said. "Our whole team only had 10 turnovers tonight and I felt that was a key. The real tale of this team is going to be consistency."
The Chippewas return to the road for two straight games, beginning with a contest at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Saturday, Nov. 26, at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST). CMU then travels to Cleveland State on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. for the return matchup of last year's ESPN Bracket Buster game at Rose Arena.
Chippewas Down Wisconsin-Green Bay, 67-62
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