The Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team opened its season Friday afternoon with a 77-45 victory over the Albion College Britons at the Convocation Center.
For the Eagles (1-0, 0-0 Mid-American Conference), junior forward Karrington Ward led the way with 17 points. He was 5-of-7 from the floor and 2-of-3 from three-point range. Ward was also 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
Two other Eagle starters scored in double digits. Redshirt freshman guard Ray Lee added 13 points while junior guard Mike Talley scored 10.
“I thought they played pretty good,” Murphy said. “Karrington was able to get some easy looks from our guard penetration. I thought Ray Lee got us going on the offensive side of things early just by getting out in transition [and] scoring some buckets. I thought as a whole we all played pretty good – we shot the ball well from outside.”
Absent from the starting lineup was redshirt senior forward Glenn Bryant. He entered the game midway through the first half, finishing the game with 12 points off the bench.
“Glenn tweaked his shoulder, we didn’t even know if he was going to play going into this game,” Murphy said. “But he felt better today. We wanted to give it a shot just to see how he would play in the game … I think he’ll be fine, we’ll bring him along slowly.”
Ward said Bryant provided the team with a spark off the bench.
“When he comes off the bench, he brings a lot of energy,” Ward said. “That’s what he showed today.”
On defense, senior center Da’Shonte Riley led the way with seven blocks, tying his career high, and tied Talley for the team lead in rebounds, with five.
“He did a tremendous job anchoring our zone,” Murphy said.
Riley’s seven blocks put him one short of the record of eight, set in 1996 by Theron Wilson.
“I think he’s upset that he didn’t break the record,” Lee said.
Jordan Herron led the Britons in scoring with 12 points.
Ward put the Eagles on the board early in the first half, giving the team a lead it would never surrender.
His perfect half propelled EMU to a 31-11 halftime lead.
“It’s different just coming from a small college to a bigger university,” Ward said. “But I’m just making adjustments and picking my spots to play.”
Lee had 10 first half points, leading the team in his first game back after playing only eight games last season before suffering a broken foot.
“It felt good, I’ve been sitting [out] a long time, working out a lot, so it was good to play in a game.” Lee said.
The Eagles came out swinging in the second half, with Ward leading the way as the Eagles cruised to the 32-point victory.
Murphy said his team played well as a whole, but cautioned that there are always things to improve on.
“I think moving forward, we have to get better rebounding the basketball,” Murphy said. “We allowed too many offensive rebounds today. Some of that is playing to the level of the competition and some of it is playing zone. Moving forward, we have to figure that out because against a good team, that can cost you games.”
The Eagles play Concordia University on Tuesday at the Convocation Center.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The game can be heard on WEMU 89.1 FM
Follow Al Willman on Twitter: @AlWillmanEcho