The Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team took on the Miami University of Ohio RedHawks Wednesday night in the second round of the Mid-American Conference tournament at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Building off the win over Northern Illinois University on Monday, the Eagles cruised to a 58-47 victory over the RedHawks.
“It was a big victory for us…first tournament win in Cleveland in a while,” redshirt junior forward Daylen Harrison said. “We were just excited building off the last game against NIU. We felt the MAC West Championship slip away, so we want to play as hard as we can in this tournament to try to win this one.”
This marks the first time since the 1997-98 season that EMU has won consecutive games in the MAC tournament.
Senior center Derek Thompson led the way for the Eagles (16-17) with 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-5 from three-point range and a perfect 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.
Three other Eagles figured in double digits.
Harrison scored 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting, including 1-of-2 from long distance. He was also a perfect 4-of-4 from the line.
Redshirt junior forward Glenn Bryant added ten points, all coming in the second half. Bryant was 4-of-8 from the field and 2-of-3 from the free-throw line.
The real story was junior center Da’Shonte Riley.
After scoring a career high 13 points and pulling down ten rebounds for his first career double-double Monday night, Riley put together another strong second half and finished with ten points. He was also one rebound shy (9) of his second double-double in as many games.
“I think coming into postseason play the main difference has been DeShonte Riley,” EMU coach Rob Murphy said. “He’s been super active by blocking shots, altering shots, getting steals. Anytime he plays that aggressive on defense makes it tough for opponents to score.”
For the RedHawks (9-22), two players tied for the lead in scoring: Will Felder and Jon Harris each scored 14 points in the losing effort.
Turnovers plagued both teams in the first half. The Eagles committed eight in the half while the RedHawks gave the ball away 11 times.
Powered by Thompson’s ten points, including six from long distance, the Eagles took a 28-25 lead into the break.
The Eagles came out in the second half and immediately established some momentum. The Eagles quickly scored four points, forcing a Miami timeout. After the timeout, EMU kept on going. The team scored eight more points on the back end of a 12-4 run to make the score 40-29 with 13:43 to go.
The Eagles cruised from there. Powered by Riley and Bryant as well as a game total of 20 turnovers for the RedHawks, EMU walked away with the 11-point win.
The Eagles move on to face the Western Michigan University Broncos tomorrow night. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. and the recap can be found again, exclusively on our website. You can also follow the game live on Twitter by using the hash tag #EchoSports.
Follow Al Willman on Twitter: @AlWillmanEcho