CMU Earns Share of MAC West Division Title

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Nobody said it would be easy. Having to battle adversity all season, the Central Michigan University men's basketball team found itself down 14 points with 12 minutes to go at rival Western Michigan Sunday afternoon with a possible share of the Mid-American Conference West Division title on the line.

And just like they had all season, the Chippewas battled through the adversity and rallied for a thrilling victory over the Broncos, 71-68. That victory, along with a loss by Ball State to Eastern Michigan, gave CMU a share of the MAC West Division title for the first title since 2003.

"We have been facing difficult challenges all season and today was no different," CMU head coach Ernie Zeigler said. "Our guys just battled all day and showed the type of toughness we have been talking about since I got here. I challenged them during and timeout with us down 14 and they really responded. Earning a share of the West Division title shows the progress that this program is making."

The Chippewas now head to the MAC Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. CMU is the No. 7 seed and will face No. 10 seed Eastern Michigan on Tuesday, March 10. Tip off is set for Noon.

The Chippewas trailed 46-32 after a WMU bucket with 12:14 to go in the game when CMU began its comeback, outscoring Western Michigan 39-22 rest of the way. Jordan Bitzer started the run with eight straight points and scored 17 of CMU's final 39 points, hitting 6-of-9 shots including three three-pointers. The 14-point deficit was the largest CMU has overcome to win this season. CMU was also led by Marcus Van with his second-straight double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Robbie Harman chipped in 12 points, all on four three-pointers, and a team-high four assists while Jeremy Allen had 10 tallies. Allen hit a pair of key three-pointers and was 4-for-4 at the free throw line in the final minutes.

David Kool lead the Broncos with 21 points, all in the second half. Senior Andre Ricks added 15 tallies while Flenard Whitfield had eight points and a team-best five rebounds.

Central Michigan dominated the glass, grabbing 40 boards to WMU's 20 including 16 offensive rebounds for the Chippewas. Central Michigan also was hot from three-point range, hitting 10-of-19 (52.6) with seven of those coming in the second half. WMU was just 7-for-24 from deep, 2-of-14 in the second half. Both shooting percentage and free throw percentage were close with CMU hitting 43.4 percent of its shot to WMU's mark of 42.2. Western Michigan hit 23-of-31 free throws (74.2) while CMU was 15-of-22 (68.2).

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