The Eastern Michigan Eagles were expected to have a close game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on the road, but poor shooting led to EMU's third loss of the season.
To be frank, this game was ugly. Missed shots, lousy turnovers, missed shots, dumb fouls and, well, missed shots (they shot 42 percent from the floor). It was close early on with both teams struggling, but once Penn State got hot, it just ended up being too far out of reach for the defensive-minded group.
James Thompson missed a couple of free throws, but his early seven points put EMU (5-3 overall) ahead 19-16, but PSU's Brandon Taylor started to heat up with a pair of 3-pointers to get the Nittany Lions on a 12-0 run to grab a 28-19 lead. Taylor ended up having a big day for Penn State making four of his eight long range shots, racking up 27 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Speaking of James Thompson and double-doubles, James Thompson had his fourth of the year. Unfortunately his noteworthy accomplishments come with some growing pains. Early in the season it was about staying out of foul trouble to stay on the floor longer. While he's started to improve there, he showed that he can be prone to letting emotions take the best of him.
Shep Garner found Isaiah Washington cutting to the basket along the base line, and as Washington went up for the dunk Thompson's swat at the ball ended up being a hard foul to put Washington on the floor. The foul was one thing, but standing there looking down with hands on his hips is another. A technical was issued, but emotions (on both sides) were still there. Under two minutes left in the game, Garner grabbed ahold of a rebound with Thompson going for it too. Garner secured the ball when Thompson was pecking away but started to back off just as the refs blew the whistle for a foul. When Thompson surrendered, Garner threw a light elbow to the freshman. It was a 19-point game.
Thompson finished with 18 points (4-for-5 from the field) and 14 rebounds. Playing for 39 minutes, Thompson was hit with four personal fouls.
Though the EMU center finished shooting 10-for-14 from the line, free throw shooting was a huge low point as the team shot 5-for-13 at the half, finishing 64.5 percent for the game (20-for-31). A lot of that came from transfer guard Ty Toney who just couldn't hit much of anything, who shot 4-for-9 in that category, but was 2-for-7 in the opening half. Toney was 2-for-10 from the field.
Jodan Price continued to show why he isn't the 3-point shooter that can really be relied on. After his first five bricks, Price finally made one midway through the second half, but it wasn't going to make a shift on the scoreboard. He ended up finishing 2-for-7 in that category with a pair of free throws to give him eight points.
After putting up 17 points in his season debut against Omaha-Nebraska, Raven Lee was also only able to put up eight points in his 16 minutes on the floor, 3-for-8 in shooting. Willie Mangum was able to put up 15 points on 14 field goal attempts in 29 minutes, fouled out late. Tim Bond fouled out with six points.
Even though EMU shot 42 percent from the floor, the Nittany Lions were able to make up for their 32 percent shooting with 19 offensive rebounds for the second-chance scoring opportunities.
The Eagles head back home on Tuesday to face an undefeated Rochester Warriors team (NAIA) before going on the road again to face the Louisville Cardinals next Saturday afternoon.