By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – A slugfest ultimately decided at the free throw line, the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team (7-4) fell on the road against Central Michigan Saturday afternoon, 74-69.
A contest that never featured a double-digit lead and a total of six lead changes, the Golden Eagles struggled to draw foul calls throughout the game, despite posting an advantage of 34-36 in the paint.
Tech attempted just 14 shots at the charity stripe all day, and its struggles were noted, hitting just 50 percent. Central Michigan, on the other hand, attempted 24 freebies on its home floor, sinking 19 for an almost 80 percent clip.
The Golden Eagles won the turnover battle, making just eight to the Chippewas' 13, and outscored CMU 16-11 off those turnovers.
In the first half, Tech built as big as an eight-point lead, hitting 44 percent from the field and 50 percent from downtown. With the whistle seemingly swallowed in the second half, the Golden Eagles found scoring down low a slight bit more difficult, hitting at just 37.5 percent from the field. Tech also converted just 3-of-11 (27.3 percent) from deep in the second half.
Central Michigan found itself as much as an eight-point lead with 10 minutes to play in the second half, but the Golden Eagles always had an answer, trimming the deficit to as little as one with 28 seconds to play thanks to a Mason Ramsey hook shot in the paint.
CMU's Cecil Williams converted a 3-point play with 13 seconds to go for the 4-point lead. Tech then got two decent looks at the basket from downtown, but neither attempt would go down as the Chippewas held on for the 74-69 win.
Curtis Phillips Jr. led the Golden Eagles with 14 points. Ramsey finished just behind, scoring 13 points and narrowly missing a double-double with a season-high nine rebounds. Kajon Mack also just missed a double-double, tallying 12 points, nine boards and three assists. Aleksa Jugovic contributed 12 points as well.
Shawn Roundtree and Cecil Williams led all scorers with 17 points apiece for Central Michigan. David DiLeo added 14 points and Kevin McKay scored 10.
The Golden Eagles will return to Cookeville and comfort of the Eblen Center Sunday, Dec. 17 for a 2 p.m. CT match-up against in-state rival Chattanooga.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information