Raven Lee had 13 points at halftime, finished with 24
If you have a strong enough second half to help your team try and win a game, we can sometimes say that so-and-so ended the game well enough to at least put said team in a position to win. Starting off MAC play by losing their first three games to Ball State, Miami and Kent State. 13 whopping points in the first half for Lee, making sure all four of the easy free throws went in for him, shooting 4-for-5 from the floor (including a much-needed 3-pointer). He also had three steals to show for.
He did not slow down.
"We challenged (Lee) today in several ways... because he hasn't performed well, especially last game," head coach Rob Murphy said after the game. Murphy says that he's always thought of Lee as a dynamic scorer from the first time Lee came to Eastern Michigan (12-5, 1-3 MAC).
7-for-12 from the floor (3-for-7 from deep) plus 7-for-8 from the charity stripe. It's pretty hard to take a guy out that puts up numbers like those. Lee had 32 minutes on the floor, but Karrington Ward, who has put up double-digit points in every game after the Eagles' road trip to East Lansing, which was exactly one month ago.
"I just got extremely focused, like, two days ago, just extremely focused in the gym," Lee said. He didn't say much afterwards. He said that he wasn't happy with how he played in MAC play thus far and was just only determined to change that.
NIU's bench, scoring without Darrell Bowie
Three starters, Jordan Threloff, Michael Orris and Anthony Johnson all found themselves in foul trouble with about six or seven minutes left in the regulation, which is more than plenty enough time to put things within striking range. Which they did. Even with the day that Lee was having, Marin Maric and Aaron Armstead were both able to put up 19 points from the bench while Aaric Armstead, second on the team with 10.9 points per game, ended up leading the way for the Huskies by putting up 15 points of his own.
Darrell Bowie leads Northern Illinois (7-8, 1-3 MAC) with 12.6 ppg, but he's missed the last three games with a should injury. A good rebounding threat as well, which out-rebounding EMU is always a must.
Jordan Threloff did not score at all
How he managed to commit four personal fouls in ten minutes on the floor is beyond me, but such is life.
Brandon Nazione got the start for the Eagles over Mike Samuels at the 5 (missed practice due to family reasons and Murphy wanted to experiment with this change) and fit the scheme well. He's much more mobile than Samuels, which helped match Threloff's versatility and there's no real size advantage going on with Threloff being only an inch taller.
"I thought (Nazione) did a tremendous job on Threloff, not allowing him to catch the ball and get any easy touches," Murphy said. "Just his activity mixes these guys up."
Last year in the MAC Tournament when these two teams last met, Threloff and Aaric Armstread both finished with nine points and 10 rebounds each.
|Player||Eastern Michigan||Northern Illinois|
|Points||Raven Lee (24)||Aaric Armstead (15)|
|Rebounds||Karrington Ward (9)||Aaric Armstead (8)|
|Assists||2 tied (2)||Travon Baker (5)|
|Blocks||Mike Samuels (2)||3 tied (1)|
|Steals||Raven Lee (3)||Aaric Armstead (2)|