Cleveland, OH- Following a gutsy overtime win by the Akron Zips, fans at Quicken Loans Arena would be treated to another fantastic contest between the second seeded Central Michigan Chippewas and the seventh seeded Western Michigan Broncos.
The Broncos jumped out to a quick 14-2 lead before Central Michigan was able to calm the storm a little bit. Junior guard Meredith Shipman led the Broncos early and often, dropping 14 points, 12 of those coming from three-point land, in the first quarter. This bolstered the Broncos to a 25-15 lead after one.
Halfway through the second quarter, the Chippewas were still struggling to find answers. The Broncos hammered away on offense, finding Shipman for yet another three along with a couple fast break layups from other contributors, and all of a sudden the Western lead was 34-19. The Chippewas offense, which averaged 74.7 points a game during the season, could not find their wheels.
The Chippewas came storming back, however, using an impressive 11-2 run capped off by an easy finish from sophomore forward Tinara Moore to cut into the lead, 36-30. The difference in the first half was certainly three pointers, with Western outdueling Central in that category six to one.
The second half started with a Steph Curry like three ball from well over 30 feet from the Broncos’ Morton, however not much else would go their way at the start. Central Michigan erupted for a 9-2 start afterwards that put them right back in the ballgame.
More back and forth action ensued to close out the third, as the Broncos and the Chippewas entered the final frame with a score of 52-50 in favor of Western Michigan.
The 4th quarter opened with a huge three from Central Michigan sophomore guard Cassie Breen to finally give them their first lead of the game, 53-52.
Central would extend the lead to 59-54, seemingly having Western on the ropes, before a big three from Deborah Meeks cut the lead to two. This would cause a Central timeout with just under five minutes to play.
With 1:30 to go, Breen delivered from long range once again, giving the Chips a 64-60 lead. A forced three from Shipman, who had cooled off in the second half, sealed Western Michigan’s fate. Shipman chirped all the way back down the floor for a foul call but to no avail as the Broncos would have to fall and come up short, 66-62.
The Broncos put four players in double figures in the scoring column, including Meredith Shipman who finished with 17. For the Chippewas, it was Tinara Moore and Presley Hudson leading the way with 18 points each, along with a 16 point effort from Jewel Cotton who only averaged just under eight points per game in the regular season.
The Chippewas will advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2014, where they will take on the winner of Ball State and Eastern Michigan.