With a chance to sew up top-four seeding at the MAC Tournament with a win, most eyes were on the Toledo Rockets in their season-ending meeting with Eastern Michigan.
Instead, the Eagles celebrated their Senior Night with a monstrous 85-59 win against the favored Rockets.
Eastern Michigan shot a fiery 45.6 percent from the field and held Toledo to just 32.2 percent shooting, and 20 turnovers also contributed to the Rockets' undoing.
"Obviously, as disappointing of a loss as I've been a part of at Toledo," Rockets coach Tod Kowalczyk said. "We're playing for a championship, and our second-half performance was scared, un-confident, non-aggressive, and that's on me."
Mike Talley led all scorers with 23 points in the blowout, and teammates Karrington Ward, Raven Lee and Tim Bond each joined him with more than 15 points on the evening. Toledo's leading scorer for the game, J.D. Weatherspoon, mustered only 12, but did add 10 rebounds in a double-double effort.
Eagles coach Rob Murphy said his team's goal is to keep winning in the month of March, something the Eagles have done so far after a middling MAC slate.
"It's a huge win for us," Murphy said. "We're not where we'd like to be, but we are where we are."
Despite the thumping, Toledo was able to cling to the fourth seed in the MAC tournament thanks to wins by Kent State and Buffalo, and with it, a two-round bye in tournament play.
Eastern Michigan finished the season eighth in the MAC, and will host ninth-seeded Miami Monday in the conference tournament's first round.
The Eagles got off to a strong start on Senior Night, as Lee scored the game's first five points. Despite tepid shooting from both sides throughout the first frame, Toledo pulled to a 24-15 lead on a Weatherspoon alley-oop slam 5:30 before the break.
Weatherspoon's dunk did nothing in the way of momentum for the visitors, however, as the Eagles rattled off a 9-0 run to tie the score at 24, ultimately taking the lead and closing the half ahead 31-29. Bond delivered seven points in the closing 16-5 run, including a thunderous dunk to energize the Convocation Center crowd.
Lee led all scorers at halftime with 11 points, followed by Talley's nine. Four Rockets had either five or six points at the break.
Eastern Michigan entered the second half firing on all cylinders, as the Eagles opened the second with an 18-4 run, eventually climbing to a 49-33 lead in the first six minutes.
The hosts cruised from that point, regularly keeping a lead of 13 points or more for the remainder. While the Rockets were plagued by turnovers and missed field goals, the Eagles hummed along, scoring inside, outside and at the free-throw line.
Toledo's shooting seemed to get colder as the evening went on, and Eastern Michigan continued to pile up points to cruise to the 85-59 victory.
The loss denied Toledo a chance to share the MAC West title, which went in full to Central Michigan.
|Points||J.D. Weatherspoon (12)||Mike Talley (23)|
|Rebounds||J.D. Weatherspoon (10)||2 tied with 7|
|Assists||Justin Drummond (2)||Mike Talley (5)|
|Blocks||Nathan Boothe (3)||3 tied with 2|
|Steals||Jordan Lauf (1)||Mike Talley (4)|