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Eastern Michigan Eagles vs. Akron Zips men's basketball final score: Defense pulls through, EMU lands 78-75 win over Zips

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Mike Talley's fast play, Karrington Ward's sixth double-double, Raven Lee's 32 points and Akron's poor shooting, but Akron stayed in this.

Andrew Mascharka

Defense, defense, defense

Talking about the Eastern Michigan Eagles (16-9, 5-7 MAC) defense may sound like a broken record at times, but that's just how they do their business. The Akron Zips (17-8, 8-4 MAC), for as talented and skilled as they are, they came into the game ranked tenth in the MAC shooting 42 percent from the floor. But against this defense that had eight blocks and 14 steals, Akron averaged 30 percent shooting from the floor. And in a game that was decided by only three points, every contribution matters.

True freshman Noah Robotham for Akron did not have a good game against this defense, shooting 4-for-19 from the floor, but still managed to put up 15 points for the Zips. Pat Forsythe, the team's leading scorer, had a good game down low. And even with defensive efforts from Brandon Nazione, Karrington Ward, Mike Samuels and other EMU big men to try and limit what Forsythe can do with his 6-foot-11 build, the junior center was still able to put up 17 points after getting ten in the first half.

Scoring in transition

Creating turnovers on the defensive end of the floor can act as a metaphorical first pass in transition.

"Because of deflections and steals, we were able to get out of transition to score some easy baskets early on," EMU head coach Rob Murphy said after the game. "For us, it's really our defense that really puts us in those positions... we've turned those turnovers into points really quickly"

The Eagles finished with 24 points on the fast break, 18 of which came in the first half. The last time EMU had this many fast break points at home: the Eagles beat Ohio 76-40.

Raven Lee's scoring, Karrington Ward's double-double

Another huge game from Raven Lee, EMU's leading scorer (15.8 ppg heading into the game), as it's almost expected from him to lead the way in that category.

"Going into the games, I don't really worry about the points, I just want to have a good floor game," Lee said after the game.

32 points from Lee isn't the most surprising stat line to read, it just proves that he's still one of the top players in the MAC with the ball. From the floor, Lee was 8-for-13 in field goals, made all but two of his 15 free throw attempts and also had six boards and four assists to show for.

"I just want to stay in attack mode every game."

Speaking of expectations: Ward had yet double-double game. 15 points, ten rebounds, Ward has really been making a case to have his name appear on one of the year-end All-MAC teams again.

Looking ahead

Akron is still 7-3 in their last ten games, so it's not like this loss is a huge setback for them. They have two home games against Toledo and Miami. The Eagles have been struggling in MAC play, but they're 5-5 in their last ten with this win. They'll wrap up their 3-game home stand on Wednesday against a tough Buffalo team, then will hit the road on Saturday to face off against Northern Illinois, who entered today with a 4-7 in-conference record, just as EMU did.

Game Leaders

Player Eastern Michigan Akron
Points Lee (33) Forsythe (17)
Rebounds Ward (10) Kretzer (9)
Assists Talley (6) Robotham (4)
Blocks Ward (4) Johnson (2)
Steals Nazione (4) Robotham (3)