The Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team picked up its 10th win of the season over Mid-American Conference East Division opponent the Northern Illinois University Huskies Saturday.
It was a very low-scoring 42-25 contest at the Convocation Center, but the 888 in attendance were able to see a pair of NCAA Division I records.
The Huskies (4-14 overall, 2-4 MAC) received the opening tip off and forward Abdel Nader hit a jumper in the opening minute, but things only went downhill for NIU.
For the remainder of the first half, the Huskies missed all 29 of their field goal attempts, and an additional 17 from three-point range. The Huskies also had Eagle blocks to contend with. Center Da’Shonte Riley swatted the ball away four times and forward Glenn Bryant added two more.
With credit to the EMU defense, NIU’s 3.2 field-goal percentage was the lowest in a half in NCAA history, breaking the old 2008 record of 4.3 percent held by Savannah State University.
“We felt we had a size advantage which I felt early on, especially early on and it took them a while to get adjusted,” EMU coach Rob Murphy said in the post-game press conference. “We imposed our size on them, defensively.”
The Eagles (10-10 overall, 3-3 MAC) continued the rest of the contest with relentless defense, more blocks by Riley and Bryant, outrebounding the Huskies and holding them to 23.3 percent shooting in the second half. The Eagles coasted their way to a low-scoring 17-point victory.
“We’re not a great scoring team with us anyway,” Murphy said, “So for us to weave and slow it down a little bit and protect the lead, sometimes that’s part of our game plan going in against somebody we can’t run up and down the floor with.”
NIU’s 13.1 field-goal percentage for the game is also the lowest in NCAA history, breaking the old record of 13.3 percent held by Miami (Ohio) in 2001. The Huskies also tied the NCAA record for fewest field goals made in a half, with one.
Riley finished the day with five blocks, four rebounds, two assists and two points. Bryant led in scoring with 10 points while racking up three blocks, causing one steal and a turnover in 32 minutes of play.
Derek Thompson, who many see as the team’s best scorer, was held to only three points, making only his last of seven shots of the game in his 23 minutes on the court.
As a team, the Eagles shot 37.1 percent from the floor, made 75 percent of their free throws, caused 15 turnovers and grabbed 42 rebounds.
The Eagles will look for their first road win on Wednesday as they take on the Ohio University Bobcats (15-5, 6-0 MAC). With all eight road games ending in losses for the Eagles, Murphy remains optimistic about the team earning its first road win.
“We just have to keep playing, stay confident, continue to believe in ourselves and just stay dedicated and committed to working hard every day,” Murphy said. “At some point we’ll break through. It wouldn’t be a better time than Wednesday to break through against Ohio.”
Last season, the Eagles defeated the Bobcats at home with the score of 68-55. Ohio went on to being a Cinderella story that season, making their way into the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.
The game is set to tip off at 7 p.m. and can be heard live on WEMU 89.1 FM.