Cleveland, OH -- Central Michigan endured an early attack to outlast and defeat Western Michigan, 66-62, on Wednesday night in a Mid-American Conference quarterfinal at Quicken Loans Arena.
After two upsets the No. 7 Western Michigan Broncos (17-15) set themselves up to make it three against the No. 2 Central Michigan Chippewas (21-9). The Broncos took a 10-point lead after the first quarter behind a 14-point contribution from Meredith Shipman, while the Chippewas only managed to stay in the game through the early effectiveness of Presley Hudson, who put together a nine-point period.
The Broncos led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter; however, Shipman's production fell off, and she accounted for only three more points before the halftime.
As the offense Shipman generated decreased, Western Michigan as whole slowed down and was outscored 15-11 by Central Michigan -- mostly in the final two minutes. The Chippewas were led by Tinara Moore and Jewel Cotton, whom both scored six points in the second stanza.
Still, the Broncos entered the break with a slight 36-30 edge.
Western Michigan stretched its lead back out to nine to open the third quarter, but a 6-0 Central Michigan run that spanned two minutes eventually knotted the score at 43-43. Over the remaining 5:16, the Broncos only managed to outscore the Chippewas 9-7 as Central Michigan turned the game into a one-possession bout with 10 minutes to play.
Moving within striking distance, the Chippewas played looser and more comfortable. While the Broncos, who've played three games in the last four days, fell off the pace.
Opening scoring in the fourth quarter, Cassie Breen hit a 3-point basket to give Central Michigan a 53-52 advantage. Western Michigan knotted took one last lead (54-53) on a Deborah Meeks layup, but a perfect Moore trip to the free throw line definitively captured the lead for the Chippewas.
Alex Morton brought the score within one point, 61-60, for the Broncos with 4:07 remaining. However, that was as close as Western Michigan got to regaining control.
Throughout the entire second half -- after starting the game so strong -- Shipman was held scoreless. The Broncos saw others step in and finish in double figures as Morton, Meeks, and Breanna Mobley ended the night with 15, 12 and 10 points, respectively. Shipman finished the game as Western Michigan's leading scorer with 17.
Leading Central Michigan with consistent offensive production, Moore, Hudson and Cotton all reached double figures. Both Hudson and Moore totaled a game-high 18 points as Moore cleared a double-double with 12 rebounds as well. Cotton contributed 16 points.
Central Michigan will advance to the semifinal round to play the winner of the No. 3 Ball State-No. 6 Eastern Michigan matchup Friday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena.