The Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team traveled to Amherst, Mass. to face the University of Massachusetts Minutemen Saturday. On the heels of a 90-38 loss to the University of Kentucky, the Eagles had hoped to wrap up their non-conference play on a positive note. Unfortunately, the Minutemen had different plans and sent the Eagles home with a 75-61 loss.
The Eagles (7-7) were led in scoring by redshirt junior guard J.R. Sims, who scored 12 points and had a stellar day on the court. Sims was 5-for-7 from the floor and 2-for-3 from three-point range. He accomplished this while only playing 27 minutes. Also in double figures for the Eagles were redshirt junior forward Glenn Bryant
with 11 points and senior forward Jamell Harris with 10.
For the Minutemen (10-3), four players put up double digit scoring: Freddie Riley was in charge with 18 points, Chaz Williams had 14, Maxie Esho scored 13 and Jesse Morgan put up 11.
Morgan got the Minutemen started a minute and a half in with a three-pointer. Sims answered with a layup on the following possession, but the Eagles still trailed 3-2. Following a Harris foul, Terrell Vinson hit both of his free throws and UMass regained a three point lead. At the 15:46 mark of the first half, Williams made another UMass three, giving his team an 8-2 lead and forcing EMU head coach Rob Murphy to call his first timeout.
The Eagles seemed to regroup after the timeout. Bryant blocked an attempted layup from Williams after the UMass guard stole the ball from him. EMU senior guard Derek Thompson came up with the ball and got it to senior center Da’Shonte Riley who slammed it home.
On the following possession, UMass’s Morgan missed a three-point attempt. Bryant came down with the rebound and freshman guard Jalen Ross then made a three-pointer of his own, bringing the Eagles to within a point of the Minutemen.
With 14:14 to go in the half, Vinson fouled Bryant, who made one of his two free throws and tied the game at 8-8. On UMass’s following possession, Esho was able to make a layup and the Minutemen retook the lead, 10-8.
The Eagles took their first lead of the game with 12:26 remaining in the first half. After a missed layup by UMass, Bryant was able to come down with a defensive rebound. Bryant got the ball to Ross who got it to Thompson. Thompson sunk a three-pointer and the Eagles took an 11-10 lead.
On the next possession, Bryant stole the ball from Williams who then fouled him. Bryant made one of two free throws, giving the Eagles a two point lead with 12:05 to go in the half.
UMass’s Riley (not to be confused with Da’Shonte Riley) made a three-pointer on their next possession, which gave his team a 13-12 lead. Vinson then fouled Bryant, sending him to the line. As he had both times before, Bryant made one of the two free throws he shot, and the Eagles were able to tie the game at 13-13.
The Minutemen then turned up the heat and went on a 12-2 run to close out the half. UMass’s Riley led the charge with four three-pointers in a row. The rest of the half belonged to UMass as they went into the break with a 38-25 lead.
The Eagles got off to a fast start to begin the second half. Harris made both free throws after being fouled by Sampson Carter. After Vinson missed a jumper for UMass, Ross was able to pull down the rebound and took it down the court, making a three-pointer to cut the UMass lead to 38-30 with 18:53 left in regulation.
Both teams went back and forth for the rest of the game, but UMass proved to be too much for the Eagles and the Minutemen made easy work of EMU.
The Eagles return home Wednesday to begin Mid-American Conference play. Their first conference opponent is the Ball State University Cardinals. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Convocation
If you can’t make it down there, the game will be carried on ETV (Channel 18 on campus) and broadcast live on WEMU 89.1 FM.