January 20, 2011

Zeigler leads CMU past Huskies

Mount Pleasant, Mich. - Central Michigan held a 66-64 lead with ten seconds left in the game and Northern Illinois had gained possession. It was an all too familiar position for the Chippewas as they have suffered countless close losses during the season, including South Dakota State winning at the buzzer with a three pointer.

But, in a reversal of fortune, CMU held on after freshman Trey Zeigler blocked the Huskies Xavier Silas game tying shot, preserving a Chippewas win and bringing CMU back to .500 in MAC play.

CMU would jump out to a 6-2 lead early in the game, and the score would remain close as the Huskies took a 25-23 lead in at the halftime. Zeigler finished 2-8 shooting in the first half and had just 4 points, but he would heat up in the second half.

Trailing 36-40 with 13 minutes to go, Zeigler would score 8 straight as CMU took a 44-42 lead. They would stretch the lead to as much as 8 (55-47) before Northern Illinois made a run and got the game knotted at 58. Chippewas junior forward Andre Coimbra would knock down a three pointer to give CMU the lead at 61-58, and the Chippewas would never relinquish the lead down the stretch.

Zeigler would finish the game with 27 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals in one of his most impressive performances in a CMU uniform. Without second leading scorer Jalin Thomas, who missed the game with an ankle sprain, other players would need to step up in the scoring column for Central Michigan to pull off a win. And much to the delight of CMU head coach Ernie Zeigler, it was his front court players who answered the bell. 6-foot-7 senior forward William McClure would add 10 points, including 4-6 from the free throw line, and Coimbra would tally a season high 14 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Northern Illinois was led by Silas's 24 points and 6 rebounds, but a suffocating defense held them to 42.9% shooting and just 64 points, 11 off their season average. 6-foot-6 forward Nate Rucker would add 12 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out, and JUCO transferTim Toler would contribute with 14 points and 6 rebounds, including 3-3 from downtown.

Central Michigan improves to 5-12 on the year and 2-2 in MAC play. Northern Illinois falls to 6-10 with the loss, and they are now tied with CMU at 2-2 in the conference. The Chippewas are next in action on Sunday when they travel to Ypsilanti for a rivalry game with Eastern Michigan. Tipoff is scheduled for 2pm.

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