Two Central Michigan players grabbed double-digit rebounding totals as the Chippewas out-rebounded Arkansas-Pine Bluff 50-34 to run away with a 62-45 victory in the third-place game of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.
Not wanting to see a repeat of last night's slow start against Nebraska, the Chippewas (7-5) didn't waste any time jumping out to a 17-5 lead on a Golden Lions (1-11) team that gave host UTEP a scare for about 30 minutes yesterday.
Three-pointers by three different Chippewas gave CMU a 9-2 after their first three possessions, and their first six field goals were all from long range. Up eight with just under five minutes to go, the Chippewas held the Lions scoreless the rest of the half while going on an 8-0 run that included three-pointers by Spencer Krannitz and Blake Hibbits.
The Chippewas' hot shooting of 41 percent cooled off after halftime as they converted only 9-of-34 (26.5%) from the field after the break but they were able to extend their lead to as many as 30 by winning the battle on the boards.
The Lions were held to just one field goal for more than 10 minutes of the second half as the Chippewas went on a 21-2 run between the 15-minute mark and the 6-minute mark.
Olivier Mbaigoto and John Simons fueled the rebounding advantage, grabbing 13 and 10, respectively, while Hibbitts and Kyle Randall paced the scoring with 12 points apiece. Hibbitts knocked down 4-of-6 from long range and tallied seven rebounds in a team-high 28 minutes off the bench. Krannitz hit 3-of-7 from behind the arc and Randall was kept from the free throw line for the first time this season, keeping his streak of 26 made free throws intact.