SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, California.—Central Michigan posted season-best field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage and strapped to the defense by winning an impressive 82-66 men’s basketball win over Cal State Northridge in Wednesday night’s Venue Twin SoCal Challenge consolation game recorded.
On offense, the Chippewas shot 55 percent from the floor (29-53), 43 percent from 3-point range (6-14), finished with 19 assists on 29 field goals and had 42 points in the paint. Defensively, the Chippewas held Cal State Northridge on 35 percent (21-60) shooting and posted 17 points fewer matador turnovers.
junior sniper Jesse Zarzuela led the Chippewas with a career-high 21 points as he converted 8-13 field goals and 4-7 3-pointers. Senior Guard/Forward Brian Taylor contributed a career-high 19 points on 8-15 shooting and four rebounds and was a junior forward Carrington McCaskill recorded first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Second point guard Kevin Mueller returned after missing Monday’s game against High Point. He finished the day with 18 points, six assists and four rebounds in a full 40 minutes.
Central Michigan (2-3) took control in the first half with a 9-0 run, surpassing CSUN 12-2 in the final 4:47 to take a 31-23 halftime lead. Zarzuela scored eight of CMU’s last 12 points, including two 3-pointers and a layup. Zarzuela put CMU ahead with a 3-pointer at 3:50, 25-23, Miller followed with a layup and Zarzuela hit with another layup 40 seconds before the break. A dunk by McCaskill made it 31-23 to Central Michigan at the buzzer.
Central Michigan’s offense was fueled by its defense in the first half as the Chippewas held CSUN on 17 percent shooting (9-35).
The CMU never gave up their lead in the second half. CSUN’s Atin Wright hit a fast break 3-pointer to reduce the Chippewas’ 37-34 lead to three points, 16:42 to play, but that was as close as they came. The Chippewas responded with back-to-back layups from Miller and Taylor. Two minutes later, back-to-back layups over Miroslav Stafl, one after a pass from Zarzuela and the other after a quick counterattack from Miller, reduced the lead to nine points (48-39) with 12:34 to go. Later, a 3-pointer from Miller gave CMU a 10-point lead with 10:04 to play.
With the prolific offense, the Chippewas maintained their lead and held off CSUN the rest of the way. Two layups by Miller and one layup by Taylor gave CMU a 14-point lead late in the game, and the final score marked Central Michigan’s largest lead of the day.
Wright led Cal State Northridge with 21 points on 5-12 shots and 9-10 free throws while De’Sean Allen-Eikens finished with 13 points.
Central Michigan remains on the West Coast and is back in action on Saturday, November 26 when it travels to Riverside, Calif. to take on California Baptist (3-2) for an 8pm ET/5pm PT matchup . The competition will be broadcast on ESPN+.