In four years of Rob Murphy basketball at The Convocation Center, the Eagles have hosted four opening round MAC Tournament games, going 2-1 in those games. The defense has brought the Eagles to Cleveland, and even to last year's semifinals, but the poor shooting all year looked like it would keep the Eagles away from traveling for a third straight game.
But then they had that moment.
Miami's largest lead of the game was 52-40
The Miami RedHawks were a gritty bunch as they've exceptionally shown in the past seven games where they've gone 5-2 in that stretch. With all of the attention that Eric Washington, 2015 Second Team All-MAC honoree, receives, he wasn't the big scorer that he's known to be. In those last seven games, he averaged 21.3 points per game (14.5 ppg, season). Against the Eagles, he only put up four points.
The main scorer for the RedHawks was Willie Moore, putting up 9 in the first half and shot 80 percent from the floor for the entire game (3-for-3 from three).
The refs allowed a lot of contact in the game, which was bad for trying to get anybody into foul trouble, but it was good for letting the forwards play in the paint and these guards to drive to the rim.
24 seconds left in the second half, Lee drove coast-to-coast, but got an offensive foul for driving through Washington to put him at the line. But Lee didn't fall, he rather stood up in a fighter stance and got into an instant stare down with Willie Moore. That pretty much pissed off both teams more than not getting any fouls called on them.
"...then they had that moment."
Two years ago, Jaylen Ross hit a huge 3-pointer against Northern Illinois to help them get to Cleveland. Last year, it was Karrington Ward's back-to-back-to-back-to-back 3's. This time it came from Lee.
Washington made the first, but missed his second free throw after going to the line. The Eagles called a timeout.
"It all came down to a March Madness type play: we were coming out of a timeout, down by three, we thought they would foul us and maybe foul us," head coach Rob Murphy said after the game.
Mike Talley took the inbound towards the rim, got it out to Raven Lee who just hit a rainbow of a shot from long range and tied the ball game up at 54 a piece.
"I shot a lot of jumpers in my life, so I just wanted to keep good mechanics and everything and it went it," Lee said after the game.
"As the game closed out after Ray's shot, I think everybody got relaxed. Mike made some plays, Anali got some big offensive put-backs, Brandon did the same thing... we're very fortunate to be moving on," Murphy said.
In overtime, Lee his his fifth foul of the game and was subbed out by Anali Okoloji, who hit the game-winning shot.
"It felt natural... I didn't even look at the score, I just saw a guy towards me, I did the move and I went up... I'm happy."
Miami's season has come to a close
A heart-breaker for the Miami fans. Close game, they had it just about closed out until EMU's defense showed up, not making any shots after their 52-40 lead until Lee fouling into Washington late in the second half. Finishing the season on a higher note than many would have thought they would about a month ago, going on a good stretch of notable wins over Akron, Bowling Green and Kent State to finish the season with a 13-19 overall record, 8-10 against MAC foes.
Onward to Cleveland
It doesn't get easier for the Eagles. Well, that's what they normally say, but who knows?
EMU will play against Bowling Green, a 5-seed in the MAC Tournament, after their win over Ball State (12). But the Falcons played and won without their star forward Richaun Holmes, who is still hurting from the Buffalo game. They won 88-75, but it was turning into a nail biter for the Falcons, but Anthony Henderson and Jehvon Clarke were still able to put up a combined 39 points.
EMU and BGSU will be the first men's game played in Cleveland on Wednesday. Game is set to start at 6:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3.
|Points||Raven Lee (19)||Willie Moore (17)|
|Rebounds||Karrington Ward (9)||Logan McLane (9)|
|Assists||Mike Talley (5)||Eric Washington (7)|
|Blocks||Tim Bond (1)||Willie Moore (1)|
|Steals||Anali Okoloji (3)||2 tied (2)|