Going into Monday night's contest between Eastern Michigan and Detroit, the numbers seemed to favor the Titans. EMU had lost 9 straight to Detroit and the Titans had already knocked off MAC foes Toledo by 3 and Bowling Green by 15 this season, but those were home contests. Surprisingly Detroit came into the game with a perfect 6-0 home record, but were 0-4 on the road. Those road woes continued though, as Eastern Michigan exploded for 57 second-half points to impressively take down the Titans 88-73.
EMU had a bit of a rough go to start off the game, falling behind 7-0 in just two minutes. At the fifteen minute mark, Detroit held their largest lead of the half; a 9-point advantage at 16-7. The Eagles then seemed to figure out Detroit's 3-2 zone, and started chipping away at the lead. A Tim Bond 3-pointer tied the game at 16, capping a quick 9-0 run to get the Eagles back into the game.
Turnovers were an issue for both teams in the first half, but really plagued the Titans. During EMU's 9-0 run, Detroit turned the ball over 9 times including three from leading scorer Paris Bass. The Titans totaled 12 turnovers during the first half, but Eastern Michigan wasn't far behind them with 7.
The Eagles benefited from those turnovers and also their ability to hit free throws. EMU nailed 8-9 from the charity stripe while Detroit only hit 4-9. That helped to minimize the Eagles' awful shooting from the field, as EMU hit just 30 percent of their shots and 25 percent from beyond the arc. James Thompson, who had seven straight double-doubles coming into the game, scored just 4 points and only grabbed 2 rebounds in the first half while being saddled with foul trouble.
A Willie Mangum three with 26 seconds left gave the Eagles their first lead of the half and could have provided some momentum going into halftime. Detroit's Chris Jenkins had other plans, as he nailed a corner 3-pointer with 5 seconds left to give the Titans a 33-31 halftime lead.
Thankfully for Eastern Michigan, the first half shooting struggles didn't carry over to the second. The Eagles burst out to a 9-3 run at the start of the second half fueled by five consecutive Mangum points. A Josh McFolley 3-pointer brought the EMU lead down to just one, but the Eagles had another run in them. Bond and Raven Lee led the Eagles to another impressive 11-1 run, giving EMU a 55-44 lead with 11:40 left.
Thompson picked up his third and fourth fouls early in the second half but still was able to make an impact. The freshman center did well to not pick up his fifth while giving the Eagles great offensive play during his time on the floor. He scored six second half points - each at key moments - before fouling out with 5:23 to go. Although Thompson broke his double-double streak, he still managed to put up 10 points and 4 rebounds.
Things started to get a little dicey when another McFolley three cut the Eagle lead to five at 71-66 with 3:25 left. With Thompson fouled out and Brandon Nazione, EMU's leading scorer at that point, at four fouls the game could have gone off of the rails. But, to EMU's credit, they put the game away like a good team should.
After a Mangum jumper, Bond stole the ball from Bass, rushed down the court and layed the ball in while getting fouled. That and-one put EMU back up 10 with 2:33 to go, and the Eagles never looked back. Nazione's career-high 23 points paced the Eagles, who ended up with five players in double figures. Mangum (16), Lee (15) and Bond (12) joined Nazione and Thompson as double-digit scorers.
The Eagles (8-4) finish off their non-conference schedule with a home contest on Saturday against North Florida (10-5). UNF started off the season knocking off Illinois, so they are no slouch. That game will tip at noon and will be broadcast on ESPN3.
|B. Nazione (23)
|J. McFolley (19)
|Two tied (7)
|G. Blackshear (10)
|T. Toney (7)
|P. Bass (4)
|Four tied (1)
|A. Foster-Smith (2)
|B. Nazione (5)
|A. Wilson (2)