The Eastern Michigan Eagles rang in the #MACsketball new year with a bang as they went on the road to take the Pittsburgh Panthers to the limit Friday night in a 93-90 double overtime loss to open the season. The Eagles had three players in double figures in points as Ray Lee had 27 points on nine of 22 shooting as he also went 7-7 from the free throw line, Tim Bond with 21 points on 7-9 shooting, while Ty Toney scored 12 off an abysmal 4-14 shooting. The defense done its job holding Pitt to 39.7% shooting, but couldn’t keep the Panthers away from the charity stripe as they had 45 free throw attempts and converted 35.
Pittsburgh was able to sustain some lengthy runs in the first half, which was assisted by EMU’s seven turnovers and the team’s inability to get to the free throw line as the Eagles didn’t take a single free throw in the half. James Thompson IV had a strong showing in the first 20 minutes six points and nine rebounds, while Willie Magnum IV led the way with seven points.
In the second half, Pitt got out to a 48-60 lead with 10:40 left in regulation, but Eastern Michigan stormed back to tie it up at 66-66 with 2:16 to go and the teams traded blows until a layup by Toney tied things up at 72-72 with a second left to send the game into overtime. EMU shot 52% from the field in the half with Bond and Toney accounting for 25 points between them. The team only turned it over four times and got to the line 18 times, which gave them chances to hang around and send the game into an extra session.
The first overtime saw the teams each take small leads but no one really took control of the game as we needed a second overtime to declare a victor. Pitt was able to take a pair of two-possession leads in the next session of free basketball, and that ultimately proved to be the difference in the game. Lee tallied 14 points in the overtimes, but the next highest scorers only had two points at a time when points are most crucial in a game. The free throw line proved to be pivotal again, as the Panthers were 15/17 from the line in the extra periods, while the Eagles were 5/5.
Eastern Michigan takes on SMU Sunday at noon.