KALAMAZOO – In its Mid-American Conference opener, the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team was never able to find its touch and couldn’t erase an early first-half deficit as it was defeated by Western Michigan 61-47.
The Eagles (8-6, 0-1), were riding a two-game winning streak heading into the game, but fell behind early as the WMU (9-5, 1-0) used a 22-4 run to open the game.
EMU coach Charles Ramsey knew his team was overmatched mentally early on, but wasn’t worried.
“You know, it was funny, they had the big lead but I never thought we were out of it,” he said.
However, it was Western’s defense on EMU forward Brandon Bowdry that seemed to affect the Eagles most in a disappointing first half.
Bowdry, who came into the game second in the MAC in scoring (19.5 ppg) and first in rebounding (10.9 rpg), was held scoreless with one rebound heading into halftime. He finished the game with a season low in both points (7) and rebounds (6).
“It was really a group effort,” WMU guard David Kool said. “You can’t have one guy to try and stop a great player like that. The big guys rose to the challenge and did a great job. Whenever we had one guy in front of him we always had one right behind him.”
Kool, the WMU senior and MAC’s leading scorer, led all scorers with 19 points.
Without the inside presence of Dobbins, Ramsey wasn’t surprised by the trouble Bowdry had against a tough and physical defense that was able to key solely on him.
“It’s a huge difference when you have a senior versus a freshman [Dobbins vs. Matt Balkema in the lineup],” Ramsey said. “When you can key on just one person, one that you have to respect and honor, you can just go ahead and double him and make someone else (on our team) try and make a play.”
That person happened to be senior Carlos Medlock, who finished with 16 points, a little over a point more than his season average (14.4 ppg).
But even with the scoring output of Medlock, the Eagles were unable to overcome a disastrous 26 percent (14-for-53) shooting on the day that included a 5-for-23 (21 percent) performance from behind the three-point line.
“It was just one of those things where we didn’t make shots,” Ramsey said. “We didn’t even make open shots. But the credit has to go to them [WMU] as well. It was just a disjointed type of game. We never really had any rhythm or flow.”
After a conference opening loss, Ramsey and the Eagles look to rebound against the University of Toledo this Wednesday at the Convocation Center.
With the beginning of conference play just under way, Ramsey feels it’s anyone’s chance to come away with the title.