CMU Knocks Off MAC Co-Leading WMU, 72-68

MOUNT PLEASANT - Robbie Harman sparked Central Michigan to a 72-68 come-from-behind win over Mid-American Conference co-leader Western Michigan on Tuesday night in Rose Arena.

Robbie Harman, a sophomore walk-on guard, scored a career-high tying 18 points off the bench while draining five three-pointers in seven attempts. He split a pair of free throws with three seconds left to make it four-point game and seal the win for CMU.

"I just try to add a spark however I can," Harman said. "Today it was on the offensive end. When teams focus on Giordan (Watson), we need to knock down shots and tonight we were able to do that."

The win ties CMU (13-15, 8-7 MAC) for fourth in the overall MAC standings with Ohio and Miami who both dropped decisions on Tuesday night. However, Ohio and Miami currently hold the tiebreakers over CMU so the Chippewas sit as the No. 6 seed heading into the regular season finale on Sunday against Toledo. The loss drops WMU (18-11, 11-4 MAC) a game behind Kent State in the overall MAC standings.

Western Michigan jumped out to an early 12-point lead when Derek Drews drained a three-pointer to make it 23-11 with 6:19 to play. However, the Chippewas closed the half on a 14-2 run to tie it at the break, 25-25.

Central Michigan used a 12-1 run early in the second build a double-digit lead of its own and CMU led the final 16 minutes of the game.

"After the first 12 minutes, Central just played harder than we did," WMU coach Steve Hawkins said. "Watson showed in this game why he's the best guard in our conference."

The Chippewa senior finished with 17 points while dishing out eight assists. He was 10-for-12 from the line while earning 10 of those trips in the second half.

Watson's biggest dish of the game came when he hit Harman for an open trey with 2:35 remaining that gave CMU a 69-63 lead. WMU standout David Kool made it a one-possession game by hitting a three-pointer with 1:46 left to make it 71-68 and Kool had another chance to chip away at CMU's advantage but one of the nation's top free throw shooters missed a pair of freebies with eight seconds left. After his second miss, the rebound was batted around before going out of bounds and the referees ruled it was CMU's ball. Facing a full court press, CMU inbounded the ball and got it to Harman who was fouled. He split the pair, missing the first and hitting the second, to make it a two-possession game with just three ticks left.

Jordan Bitzer added 13 points and a team-high tying seven rebounds for CMU while playing 37 minutes. He had a pair of blocked shots in the opening minute of the game, both of them coming against Kool, the MAC's leading scorer in conference action.

Kool finished with a game-high 24 points while going 13-for-16 from the line. Shawntes Gary added 20 points for the Broncos and Joe Reitz had 10 points before fouling out with 4:25 left.

"We really stepped up to the challenge," CMU coach Ernie Zeigler said. T"here were lots of challenges in preparing for this game, both big and small. I'm proud of the steps we're taking as a program.

"We still have a long way to go, but this win puts us in a position to really feel good about ourselves heading into Cleveland."

The Chippewas close the regular season on Sunday, March 9, when they welcome the Toledo Rockets at 2 p.m. All 12 MAC teams then head to Cleveland, Ohio for the MAC Tournament March 12-15.


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