It was a neck-and-neck game for most of the second half but senior guard Darrell Lampley made six consecutive free-throws in the final 1:38 of Saturday’s game to help lift the Eastern Michigan men’s basketball team to a 47-40 Mid-American Conference opener victory against Northern Illinois.
The Eagles (6-9, 1-0 MAC) made just 13 of their 36 shots (36.1 percent) but went 79.2 percent from the free-throw line. Meanwhile, NIU shot 29.2 percent from the field while going 71.4 percent from the free-throw line.
With 2:23 to play, the Eagles held a mere one-point lead and from that point on, the defense held the Huskies scoreless, and Lampley’s free throws were able to pull the Eagles to victory.
Lampley finished with a game-high 16 points while Jamell Harris and Antonio Green added seven points each. Harris, along with Austin Harper, pitched in with seven rebounds a piece.
The Eagles opened the game with consecutive buckets from Da’Shonte Riley and got off to an early 7-2 lead. With 13:21 left in the first half, the Eagles’ lead expanded to 17-6 after a three pointer by Green.
The Huskies would slowly cut that lead down, tying the score at 19 with 5:13 before the half. The teams would exchange baskets and the lead before the Huskies were able to pull away three-point ahead at halftime.
The Huskies (1-12, 0-1 MAC) were led by Tim Toler, who had 11 points and four rebounds. Zach Miller added nine points while Tony Nixon put up seven points and four rebounds. Defensively, NIU was led by Antone Christian with six rebounds.
Coming out of the locker room, a layup by Harris would cut the Huskies’ lead down to just one but Abel Nadar would respond with a quick three-pointer.
The score remained close for most of the second half, however, the lead would only change once.
The Eagles will return home Wednesday when they take on in-state rival Central Michigan (6-8, 1-0 MAC) in their first home game since November. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.