Despite senior Derek Thompson’s great shooting, the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team blew an eight-point lead in the late stages of the game Saturday and fell to the Missouri State University Bears, 57-54, in the ESPN BracketBuster Challenge at the Convocation Center.
Thompson led all scorers with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range.
“Thompson played a whale of a game, and it was great to see him bounce back,” EMU assistant coach Kevin Mondro said.
EMU falls to 12-15 overall and 5-7 in the Mid-American Conference, while Missouri State moves to 9-20 and 6-10 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Redshirt junior J.R. Sims scored 11 on 3-of-10 from the field and three assists.
Redshirt junior Austin Harper had nine points, six assists and four rebounds in 29 minutes off the bench.
For Missouri State, senior Anthony Downing scored a team-high 16 on 4-of-9 from the field and 7-of-11 from the free-throw line.
Freshman Marcus Marshall scored 11 on 3-of-8, along with three steals.
Things started slowly for EMU as Missouri State scored the first five points of the game.
Then, the Eagles’ three-point shooting and timely offensive rebounding helped spur a 16-5 run.
The highlight of EMU’s run was an offensive rebound and put-back dunk by redshirt junior Glenn Bryant off of Sims’ missed three-point attempt, which got the crowd on their feet.
The Eagles’ hot shooting continued as the team went on a second 10-3 run highlighted by redshirt junior Daylen Harrison and Sims’ three-pointers.
EMU’s lead grew to as many as 13 points, at 26-13.
Despite an 8-3 run by the Bears, the Eagles went into the locker room up 29-21.
In the second half, Missouri State scored the first seven points. EMU responded by scoring six straight points, highlighted by Thompson’s four-point play with 15:07 left in the game.
As the shot clock expired, Harper converted a fall-away jump shot to increase the Eagles’ lead to 37-28 with 13:51 remaining.
EMU appeared to be in control of the game, leading 47-39 until Missouri State went on a 14-0 run, which was helped by five Eagle turnovers during the drought.
Thompson hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 53-50 with 39.5 left. Shortly after hitting the shot, he fouled out of the game with 31.9 remaining.
“[Thompson], to his credit, made a great team play, but we still had to stop the clock and put [Missouri State] on the foul line,” Mondro said.
After Missouri State’s Downing split the two free throws, EMU sophomore Antoine Chandler was fouled while passing the ball to senior Matt Balkema, and missed the front end of a one-and-one.
After Downing split another set of free throws, Chandler fouled freshman Marcus Marshall, but after it was called, officials reviewed the play and saw Marshall elbowing Sims so a contact technical was called.
Marshall split the two free throws from Chandler’s personal foul and Sims hit both free throws from Marshall’s contact technical foul.
On the inbound pass, Chandler was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Despite four straight missed free throws by freshman Dorrian Williams and junior Nathan Scheer, the Eagles could not muster a last second shot as the Bears completed the come-from-behind victory.
EMU coach Rob Murphy was unavailable for comment after the game due to a family emergency.
The Eagles are now 1-1 all-time against the Bears.
EMU falls to 11-4 at the Convocation Center this season.
The Eagles’ final record in ESPN BracketBusters is 5-5.
BracketBusters will end after this season due to multiple conferences realigning across the NCAA.
The Eagles travel to Dekalb, Ill., looking for the season sweep of the Northern Illinois Huskies (5-20 overall, 3-9 MAC) on Wednesday.
In their last meeting on Jan. 26, the Eagles defeated the Huskies, 42-25. EMU held Northern Illinois to four first half points. In that game, the Eagles held an opponent to less than 30 points for the first time since Dec. 7, 2004, when they defeated Rochester College, 89-29.
Bryant was the only player in double-figures from both teams with ten.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the game can be heard on WEMU 89.1 FM.
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