Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – There were records and milestones aplenty.
Most importantly, it was a big win for a team with championship aspirations.
Presley Hudson continued her torrid pace, scoring program-record 43 points Wednesday as the Central Michigan women’s basketball team held off hard-charging Ball State, 101-92, in a Mid-American Conference game at McGuirk Arena.
It was CMU’s fourth straight win and it kept the Chippewas unbeaten (4-0) in the MAC. CMU (12-4 overall) is one of two remaining unbeatens in the league. The other, Northern Illinois, shares the top spot in the West with CMU.
“Holding home court is critical to winning a championship and then you go on the road and you steal a couple,” CMU coach Sue Guevara said. “This is a pretty tough conference. You have eight (league games) at home, and you have to make sure you’re taking care of business here at home.”
The Chippewas improved to 9-1 at home, doing so in a highly entertaining fast-paced game before 1,471 at McGuirk.
Hudson, a sophomore guard who has earned the MAC West Player of the Week Award for the past two weeks, set the McGuirk Arena scoring record, eclipsing the 42 points scored by CMU’s Chris Fowler in a men’s game on Feb. 4, 2015, against Bowling Green.
• Hudson’s 43 points surpassed the previous single-game best 40 scored by current CMU video coordinator Shonda Long against Buffalo in 2011.
• The Chippewas hit 17 3-pointers (on 28 attempts), breaking the program record of 16 set in 2012 against Robert Morris.
• Hudson hit nine 3-pointers, tying the program mark held by Jodi Culbertson against Ball State in 2000.
• The Chippewas’ 101 points marked the first time they have eclipsed the century mark since a 110-87 win over Oakland on Nov. 15, 2015.
Cassie Breen added 16 points, all in the second half, for the Chippewas, while Aleah Swary came off the bench to finish with 14 points, Reyna Frost had 12, and Jewel Cotton finished with 10.
Renee Bennett scored 22 points to lead Ball State (10-6, 3-1), while Carmen Grande and Moriah Monaco added 15 each.
Hudson finished 13-for-18 from the floor including 9-for-14 from 3-point range. She also made eight of her 11 free throw attempts. Her 39th and 40th points came on a drive with 1:26 remaining that extended the Chippewas’ lead to 98-92. Her record-setting 41st point came on a free throw with 44 seconds remaining, making is 99-92.
“If Presley comes across half court and shoots the ball, I don’t have a problem with it because that’s what she does in practice,” Guevara said.
“You can’t just be on Pres because you have this kid,” she added, motioning to Breen. “To have two 3-point shooters like that, you have to pick your poison.”
The game was the latest chapter in what is unfolding as a remarkable sophomore year for Hudson, a 5-foot-6 spitfire from Wayland. She is averaging 33.7 points in her last four games, a stretch that has included a 36-point and a 35-point effort.
“She’s always telling me to shoot more,” Hudson said of Guevara. “I think I’ve been pretty confident, just going into games not thinking about what I’m going to do, just going out and playing.”
The Chippewas maintained their poise down the stretch against a Cardinal team that refused to pack it in despite the fact that CMU made 60.7 percent of its 3-point tries and 58.1 percent of its field goal attempts overall, both season-bests.
CMU’s lead was 10, 85-75, after a Breen 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter. Ball State pulled to within one, 92-91, with under four minutes to play. The Chippewas outscored the Cardinals, 9-1, over the final 3:47.
“That’s the toughness,” said Guevara, who, as she has frequently done throughout the season, harkened back to last March when the Chippewas lost in the MAC Tournament championship game in overtime in Cleveland. “When you have that type of mentality, that helps. There’s not this panic, or this woe is me, or the refs are doing this.
“That’s a mental toughness that if you think about last year in the championship game – you have to have that mental toughness if you want to get back.”
The Chippewas go to Bowling Green (5-11, 1-3) for a MAC game on Saturday (2:30 p.m.).
“Every game we play is a championship game,” Guevara said. “We have to go in with that mentality and keep developing the strength of that mentality. This is our Cleveland tonight. When we go on the road against Bowling Green, that’s our Cleveland. That’s our mindset.”