Wins were hard to come by for Eastern Michigan University athletic teams over Thanksgiving weekend, but the men’s basketball team managed to defeat the Madonna University Crusaders Saturday 75-57 in front of 552 devoted fans at the Convocation Center.
It was a night for redshirt junior forwards. Daylen Harrison led the Eagles with 17 points and 9 rebounds in 33 minutes of play. Glenn Bryant scored 16 points and pulled down five rebounds while spending 22 minutes on the floor. Senior center Matt Balkema (see player profile on this page) had one rebound and committed two fouls off the bench.
The Crusaders kicked off the scoring with a Travis Schuba three-pointer early in the first half. Harrison responded with a jumper in the paint to make it 3-2. After Madonna’s Eoghann Stephens made one of two free throws following a Bryant foul, Bryant made a fast-break layup and tied the score at 4-4.
Madonna’s Schuba hit another three-pointer to start his team’s 15-4 run through the middle of the half. With the Eagles down 19-8, EMU coach Rob Murphy called a timeout and went to his bench. Redshirt junior guard J.R. Sims and Balkema replaced junior center Da’Shonte Riley and senior guard Derek Thompson, and things started to come together for the Eagles.
Following the timeout, Harrison was able to start a 13-8 run by making a pair of free throws. The run was capped off by senior forward Jamell Harris making a fast break layup with 6:45 to go in the half, but the Eagles still trailed 27-21.
The Eagles went on a 13-3 run to close out the half and managed to enter the break with a 33-30 lead. In the first half, the Eagles were 14 for 35 (40 percent) from the floor and missed all eight three-pointers they attempted. The Crusaders were 11 for 25 (44 percent) from inside the line and 7 for 17 from beyond the arc. The Eagles were in control from the free throw line, shooting 5-8 (62.5 percent) while the Crusaders made one of two free throws.
The Eagles came out swinging in the second half. Riley’s layup and a Thompson jumper increased the EMU lead to 37-30, and they were just getting started. Schuba fired off another three for Madonna, but Bryant responded with a jumper to start a 16-2 run capped off by a dunk from Bryant.
Schuba hit another three for Madonna at the 10:11 mark of the second half and another one on the other side of the halfway point to bring the EMU lead down to 12 at 53-41, but the Eagles turned on the afterburners and put the Crusaders away 75-57.
Harrison’s 17 points and Bryant’s 16 were followed by Lee scoring 14 in 25 minutes played. The Eagles shot 17 for 34 from the field in the second half and significantly better from three point range as well. The team was 4 for 9 (44.4 percent) from beyond the arc.
The Crusaders were led by Schuba’s 23 points in 34 minutes of play.
Fred Williams was a not-so-close second with 13 points in 31 minutes. As a team, the Crusaders were an ice cold 8 for 29 (27.6 percent) from the field and a slightly better 5 for 16 from three-point range.
The Eagles don’t play their next game until Dec. 3, when they travel to Syracuse, N.Y. to take on the Syracuse University Orangemen. As of press date, the Orangemen are ranked No. 6 in the country. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU as well as on 89.1 WEMU-FM locally. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.