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Can the Chippewas Dethrone the Ducks?

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NCAA Womens Basketball: WNIT Tournament-First Round Joe Raymond-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 2 seed Oregon Ducks (32-4) will face off against the No. 11 seed Central Michigan Chippewas (30-4) at 3PM PT, on ESPN this Saturday in Spokane, Washington.

This is Oregon’s second ever Sweet 16 appearance and Central Michigan’s first. Let’s take a look at what the Chippewas have been able to accomplish this season, shall we?

Starting Five

Central Michigan’s starters have played and started in every game as depth is not their strongest suit. The five starters are:

Tinara Moore, Forward, Senior, 6’3

(Averaging 9.7 Rebounds, 18.9 points and .578 from the field.)

Reyna Frost, Forward, Junior, 6’0

(Averaging 11.8 rebounds, 13.9 points and .515 from the field.)

Presley Hudson, Guard, Junior, 5’6

(Averaging 44% of her three-pointers and 18.4 points)

Micaela Kelly, Guard, RS-Freshman, 5’6

(Averaging .512 from the field and 11.6 points.)

Cassie Breen, Guard, Senior, 5’10

(Averaging 39% from three and 12.2 points.)

Non-Conference Resume

The Chippewas played no ranked team during the regular season. After a season-opening loss to Purdue, Central Michigan won their next eight games, all by at least ten points. The widest win-margin came against St. Thomas Aquinas Saints in their 96-47 victory.

Central Michigan ended their non-conference schedule with two straight losses. The first loss was to the Duquesne Dukes, 64-61, ( a game in which the Chippewas were held to 8 points in the fourth quarter) and the other was to the Quinnipiac Bobcats, 84-70.

(13-3)

Conference Play

The only conference loss that Central Michigan suffered was to Buffalo. The Chippewas have proven they can finish close games by winning 10 of their 12 games that were decided by less than two scores. They finished 1st in the MAC and earned the top seed in the MAC tournament, where they beat nine seed Eastern Michigan, 67-64, in the Quarterfinals and then 4 seed Miami Ohio in the semifinals, 61-58.

The Chippewas ended their conference tournament by beating the one conference foe that had bested them (sound familiar?). Central Michigan defeated Buffalo, 96-91, to win the MAC Championship and an automatic bid into the tournament.

(17-1)

First Round

No. 11 Central Michigan vs No. 6 LSU

The Central Michigan Chippewas earned their first ever tournament win through the impressive performance of Senior Forward Tinara Moore, who scored 25 points. The Chippewas hit 50% from the field and grabbed 40 rebounds to the Lady Tigers’ 27, they also finished the game with four players scoring more than 12 points.

Chippewas 78 - Lady Tigers 69

Second Round

No. 11 Central Michigan vs No. 3 Ohio State

This time around, Junior Presley Hudson led the way for the Chippewas with 28 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The team as a whole shot very well; hitting 45% from the field, 25-27 of their field goals and 14 total three-pointers. Once again, four players scored in double-digits, but this time three of them had more than 20 points.

Central Michigan also put an end to the amazing college career of Ohio States’ Kelsey Mitchell, who surpassed Jackie Stiles during the game for second place in career points scored (3,402). Although Mitchell was unlikely to catch up to first place Kelsey Plum of Washington and her 3,527 points, it was at least within the realm of possibilities as the senior was averaging 24 points a game and scored 28 in her final game.

Chippewas 95 - Buckeyes 78

The Ducks would be wise not to sleep on Central Michigan as they have proven themselves a tough out already. Once again, the sweet 16 begins this Saturday and Oregon will play at 3PM PT on ESPN.