Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
DeKALB, Ill. – Kevin McKay came off the bench to score a career-high 33 points on Tuesday as the Central Michigan men’s basketball team posted a much-needed Mid-American Conference victory, downing Northern Illinois, 80-72, in the Huskies’ Convocation Center.
The Chippewas snapped a two-game losing streak, improving to 16-10, 5-8 MAC. NIU, which knocked off league-leading Buffalo on Saturday, is 11-15, 4-9.
The win completed a regular-season sweep for CMU over the Huskies, and it snapped a four-game losing streak at NIU. The last time the Chippewas had beaten the Huskies in DeKalb was in March, 2013. It is CMU’s first regular-season sweep of NIU since 2010-11.
MR. McKAY & Co.
McKay, a sophomore guard, made 14 of his 20 field goal attempts, hit five of his six free throw attempts, and grabbed seven rebounds in 36 minutes.
CMU coach Keno Davis: “Not only did he lead us with 33 points, but he was working defensively. I mean a lot of times he was on their best player, up there giving us pressure, rebounding the ball, giving us seven rebounds. I won’t say it’s his breakout game because I feel like every time he’s on the court he’s showing what he can do and how much he’s improved in a year. It’s going to be exciting the rest of the year to see what he can do, and for two more years it’s going to be a lot of fun for CMU fans to watch Kevin McKay.”
Shawn Roundtree Jr. scored 16 points and Cecil Williams added 10 for the Chippewas. The pair combined to finish 17 for 18 from the free throw line.
McKay had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season on Saturday in the Chippewas’ 69-63 loss at Akron.
The Chippewas made just three of their 19 3-point attempts, but made up for it at the free throw line, knocking down 27 of 33 charity tosses. The three triples were the Chippewas’ season low as was their 3-point field goal percentage (.158). CMU outrebounded the Huskies, 33-24.
CMU finished at 81.8 percent from the line, and Tuesday’s performance came three nights after it made just 47.6 percent in a loss at Akron.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The game featured 15 ties and 17 lead changes. The Chippewas took the lead for good, 71-69, on a McKay layup with 3:30 left. The lead was 74-72 when McKay scored on another drive with 1:26 left. That bucket triggered a 8-0 game-ending run. McKay scored on a tip-in and then Roundtree hit two free throws with 19 seconds to play.
Eugene German scored 23 points to lead the Huskies. He scored 19 of his points in the first half, during which he was four of seven from 3-point range. He missed all five of his second-half triple tries.
Davis: “We played a lot of box-and-one (defense) on him and we haven’t practiced box-and-one for a second all year. We kind of put it in on the fly. We just put a guy on him and said, ‘don’t leave him.’ I credit our guys with executing on something that usually a coach wouldn’t have confidence in the players to do without a lot of practice time. That’s a credit to our guys on their intelligence, but it also goes as a credit to German of how great a player he is that we had to make that change.”
The Chippewas return to McGuirk Arena on Saturday (4:30 p.m.) to take on Eastern Michigan in a MAC game. The Eagles are 15-11, 6-7 after a 58-57 home win over Miami (Ohio) on Tuesday.