Central Michigan gets rare win outside of conference
The Central Michigan University men's basketball team enjoyed its break from Mid-American Conference action Saturday.
Buoyed by Kevin Nelson's career-high 27 points and a sizzling first half shooting, the Chippewas cruised to a 90-73 victory over the University of Evansville in an ESPN Bracket Buster clash.
The win improved the Chippewa record to 5-20 for the season while Evansville fell to 5-19.
CMU claimed a 52-29 halftime lead thanks to meshing 55.9 percent of its shots on 19-of-34 from the field. The Purple Aces managed to make just 9-of-29 over the same period for 31.0 percent.
It's a good thing, too, as the Chippewas cooled to 23.1 percent in the second 20 minutes and finished the game making 25-of-60 for 41.7 percent. Evansville shot 53.3 percent in the second half (16-of-30) to finish at 42.4 percent on 25-of-59.
Nelson, who drilled five of-eight three-pointers, was a perfect 10-of-10 from the foul stripe to better his old career-high of 22 in December against Loyola-Chicago.
The sophomore guard got plenty of scoring help from senior center Gerrit Brigitha with 20 and senior guard T.J. Meerman's 11.
The Purple Aces also had three men in twin figures – Clint Cuffle with 11, and Bradley Strickland and Eric Ottens 10 each.
CMU held a 43-39 edge in rebounding. Adam Dentlinger paced the winners with eight. Game-high honors went to Cuffle with 10 despite playing little in the second half after sustaining an injury.
Dentlinger, making his fifth straight start, added nine points and three steals.
Junior Robert Sevalia got the first start of his career at the point and responded with eight assists against one turnover. Nelson added six assists as the Chippewas posted 19 assists to 11 for the Purple Aces.
Senior Dan Quinn contributed six points, five rebounds and a steal in 13 minutes.
CMU held a lopsided edge at the free throw line, partly because of Evansville's poor shooting. The visitors made just 16-of-29 for 55.2 percent compared to the Chippewas 33-of-41. The Purple Aces were whistled for 30 fouls, CMU 29.
The Chippewas return to action on Wednesday when they play at Western Michigan. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.