When the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team needed it a boost in the second half, Karrington Ward stepped up and delivered in the 81-69 victory against the Cleveland State University Vikings at the Convocation Center on Mon. Nov. 18.
Ward showed that he is here to make an impact long-term as he scored a career-high 28 points and grabbed six rebounds in 32 minutes.
“(Ward) did an unbelievable job making athletic plays, rebounding the ball, hitting three-point shots and (catching) a couple of lobs,” EMU coach Rob Murphy said. “Any guy who can put those types of numbers up is (someone to be fortunate to have on our roster).”
The win also gives EMU its first 4-0 start since the 1996-97 season– where games were played at Bowen Field House and players such as Earl Boykins and Derrick Dial starred.
In only 14 minutes off the bench, Glenn Bryant notched 10 points with four of them coming off alley-oops and collected six rebounds.
For Cleveland State (2-2), the inability to penetrate to the paint in EMU’s 2-3 zone proved to be insurmountable as they shot 5-of-27 from three-point range.
Guard Trey Lewis was held to 2-of-13 from long distance and had some open looks, but had a hard time finding his shot. Most of Lewis’s 19 points came off of free throws as he went 11-of-12.
“(EMU’s) zone was very potent in the second half, “ Cleveland State coach Gary Waters said. “I consider us a very good shooting team and we didn’t shoot well at all today.”
Despite scoring 22 points, guard Bryn Forbes had trouble shooting from three-point range as he went 2-of-6.
Cleveland State controlled the rebounding battle 50-33 over EMU and most notably 26 on the offensive end compared to five, respectively.
“If we can just rebound the ball better, then it is the last thing we need to do to become to complete on both ends of the floor,” Murphy said. “We will correct (our rebounding issues) as things move forward.”
The first half saw multiple lead changes and most notably an apparent foot injury to guard Mike Talley, which caused him to be in the locker room and miss significant action.
No team held a lead in double-digits as EMU went into the halftime trailing 35-32.
The early part of the second half played out similar to the first as both teams traded leads until Talley returned to action and with the game tied at 47, EMU took control of the game beginning with a 12-0 run led by Ward’s three-point make from the wing and lay-up.
The Eagles would not relinquish the lead as they finished out the Vikings with some late-game dunks from Ward and Bryant that got most of the crowd out of their seats and ultimately went home happy.
The attendance was 825.
The Eagles continue non-conference play on Sat. Nov. 23 when they take on the University of Texas at Arlington Mavericks at the Convocation Center as part of the Keightley Classic.
UT Arlington’s record on the season is 2-3 and in its last game on Nov. 19 lost to the University of Kentucky Wildcats, 105-76.
A player to watch out for UT Arlington is senior guard Reger Dowell, who is averaging 24.8 points per game this season.
Against Kentucky, Dowell scored 20 points in 27 minutes of action.
Game time starts at 7 p.m. and can be heard on WEMU 89.1 FM with Chad Bush and Sean Hostetter on the call.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.