The Eagles played really good defense and didn't miss most of their shots
And when the heck does that ever happen? Like, ever?
There was a good portion of Eastern Michigan's (13-6, 2-5 MAC) scoring that came from fast breaks (24), but this is a 30 percent shooting team making more shots than not. I'm pretty convinced everything I once knew was a lie, and the whole thing about the Eagles coming into this game with only one win in MAC play never happened and Bill Belichick never cheated, not even in high school.
A combined 32-for 64 from the floor, and most of that came off 24 points off of turnovers (18 t/o for Ohio), led by Mike Talley, Raven Lee and Karrington Ward (combined 47 points). Tipped and intercepted passes, a strong half-court press and 44 points in the paint makes for a good formula for success.
It was the exact opposite story for #SaulBall
"We're not as good as I think we've shown today, and I don't think Ohio is that bad," EMU head coach Rob Murphy said after the game.
The Ohio Bobcats (7-11, 2-5 MAC) came off of a big home win over Buffalo, thanks to a game-winning dunk by Maurice Ndour, but I guess that's the case against momentum in sports in a nutshell for you. The Bobcats only shot 23 percent from the floor, a season-low for them. While forward Antonio Campbell ran away with a double-double, there wasn't much of anything else going on for them.
Holding Ndour, who leads Ohio with 16.0 points per game, to a mere four points (1-for-7) had a lot to do with how this game went down.
"When he caught the ball inside, we wanted our centers to aggressively wall him up and make it tough for him see and contest his shots," Murphy said. "They didn't get any clean or easy looks, and when you get stops, you're able to get out in transition. Tonight, I thought we were great offensively."
Karrington Ward's first half
I like to think I'm qualified enough to tweet stuff like this out.
I think this is the best first half of basketball I've ever seen out of Ward.— Alex Alvarado (@ARAlvarado13) January 28, 2015
He only put up a simple six points in the first half, but the way he played defense with Mike Samuels and Lekan Ajayi was too much for the Bobcats. Put those with a pair of blocks and steals and four rebounds (all defensive) along with it makes for a pretty good start. He also intercepted a pass, which is a good resume booster for him with National Signing Day right around the cor- ...wait, wrong sport.
Honoring deceased student-athletes is hard, especially just two short days after a tragedy like hers. A few of those in EMU's student section (as well as a handful of those scattered around the Convocation Center) wore a white t-shirt with a big number 32, Heady's number.
#32 for Shannise Heady, EMU women's basketball player who died over the weekend. pic.twitter.com/TtJ4nwYeKD
— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) January 28, 2015
"We didn't do much preparation to be honest," Murphy said. The team was scheduled to practice at 10 a.m. on Sunday to get their first of two practices in before this game, but cancelled it when they heard the news. They followed up by shortening their practice on Monday to just an hour.
The men's and women's teams are both very close to each other, as we could expect. Things are still extremely tough for some of the players on the roster that knew Heady personally, like Okoloji.
"I knew her personally so it hit home when I heard that she passed. I couldn't believe it, I'm still in shock today. She went to Seton Hall, I went to Seton Hall as well so I knew her there and I really got to know her over the summer. It just hurt knowing that she's a really good person, a really positive person too. Whenever you were feeling down, when you seen her come in the room and smiled, it was like, you felt better. She wasn't all like 'Hey, Anali, let me give you a hug,' so it was just like- I still can't believe it.
"We're all effected by it. I think it makes us closer because we realize that at any given second, one of our teammates and one of our close friends could die. It just goes to show you that life is short and you've got to take advantage of it every day, especially with your friends and close loved ones."
The Eagles will be at home again on Saturday, facing off against a rivaled Western Michigan at noon, and Ohio will be on the road that afternoon to face Central Michigan at 4:30.
|Raven Lee (19)
|Antonio Campbell (16)
|Olaleka Ajayi (10)
|Antonio Campbell (11)
|Mike Talley (7)
|2 tied (2)
|Karrington Ward (2)
|4 tied (1)
|3 tied (2)
|Stevie Taylor (3)