Another game at a ridiculous hour, another close game, and sadly, another Chippewas loss. In the third game and final game of their trip to Hawaii for the Outrigger Hotels Island Classic, CMU fought down to the wire, but for the second consecutive game, came up short. The loss drops CMU to 1-2 on the season.
CMU pulled within 1 point of the Warriors with 44.5 seconds to go, following 1/2 free throws from Derek Jackson. CMU retained possession because of an intentional foul. But freshman Trey Zeigler could not knock down a jump shot, forcing CMU to foul. After 1/2 free throws, the Warriors put on their full court press, forcing the Chippewas into a turnover, and another foul. Now trailing 65-62, Central had one last chance to try and force overtime, but a last second half-court shot hit off the backboard.
The game remained close from late in the first half on. CMU went on a 13-2 run to turn an eight point deficit into a Chippewa lead. From there it was back and forth, with CMU holding a 34-33 lead going into the half.
The second half featured more of the same, with seven changes of the lead, and three times the game was tied. And though the Warriors lead for the final four minutes of the game, Central was never down by more than one possession.
Once again, the Chippewas were lead by the scoring duo of Trey Zeigler and Jalin Thomas. Zeigler finished as the games leading scoring, dropping 24 points, two nights after a 21 point effort against Montana State. He also led the Chippewas in rebounds, grabbing 5. While Thomas was able to add 14 points. Andre Coimbra and Derek Jackson each chipped in 8 points. CMU shot 38.2% from the floor, 24% from 3pt range, and a very strong 77.8% at the foul line. The CMU defense also forced 20 turnovers from Hawaii.
The Warriors had four players finish in double figures, with Bill Amis leading the way, totaling 17 points and 8 rebounds. With the victory, the Warriors captured the tournament title. Hawaii held a 28-23 rebounding advantage.
Jalin Thomas was honored on the All-Tournament Team.
This was definitely the best of the three teams that the Chippewas played during their time in Hawaii, and it was a very promising effort, despite the loss. Especially considering CMU started three new players, the two freshman Zeigler, and Jackson, in addition to the transfer Coimbra.
Much like the CMU football team this season, this is a very young Chippewas team, but one that shows alot of potential, and only looks to get stronger as the season continues on.
One observation that I’ve made from this game, as well as the Montana State game, is that CMU at times is way to reliant on Trey Zeigler to make things happen. Yes he is the most talented player on the team, but he is a freshman, and all of the burden can’t be played on his shoulders.
Central also needs to find other means of scoring. As of now, Zeigler is averaging 18.7 points per game, while Jalin Thomas is averaging a very solid 16.7 points per game. Those two are combining for over 50% of the team’s offense. The next closest scorer to either of those two players is Andre Coimbra who is only average 6.7 points per game.
For me this biggest factor in the success of this team is how well big man William McClure plays, particularly on the defensive end of the court. He is not an offensive force, but when he is playing physical defense, and grabbing rebounds (currently 9.0 per game) is when the Chippewas have the most success. It’s no surprise that the Chippewas won their only game in his best effort of the season.
Again, this is a young team, and they played three very solid games in their time out in Hawaii, but unfortunately lost two of them.
CMU is off until this Saturday, November 20th, when the travel to Mobile, AL to take on South Alabama. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm.