Rob Murphy knows victories are hard to come by on the road and Saturday night was no exception as Eastern Michigan University held off a late surge from Central Michigan University and walked away with a 72-59 win at McGuirk Arena.
“It’s great to get a road victory because they are hard to come by,” Murphy said. “We played really good defense and that is what we hang our hats on.”
Point guard Mike Talley was a one-man show on offense as he tied his career-high with 21 points and shot 6-of-13 from the field, 8-for-8 from the foul line, and a three-point make.
Not found in the stat sheet was his ability to get others involved on the floor.
“I was trying to push the ball in transition to get the offense going,” Talley said. “Other players were able to get involved and it broke CMU’s zone.”
Karrington Ward benefited from Talley’s play as he notched a double-double for the first time as an Eagle with 15 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
“Talley was able to get (Karrington) some better looks at the rim in the second half,” Murphy said. “His game is to get buckets in transition and hit the offensive glass.”
EMU moves to 11-6 and 3-1 in the Mid-American Conference, while CMU falls to 7-9 and 0-4 in the MAC.
Austin Stewart led the Chppewas in points and rebounds with 15 and seven, respectively.
CMU leading scorer Chris Fowler was held to two points in the first half, but finished with 13 and grabbed six rebounds.
Chippewas head coach Keno Davis, who was ejected in the second half for arguing with officials over a foul call, praised the Eagles as a team.
“They are a very talented team and are good at what they do,” Davis said.
Talley and Braylon Rayson exchanged three point baskets from almost similar spots on opposite ends of the court to start the scoring.
Ward’s only basket of the half would be on a baseline jumper to put EMU back ahead 5-3.
Both teams would exchange leads until Talley’s layup with 11 minutes left in the first half to put EMU back up 10-8.
Up 25-20 with ten seconds left in the half, EMU’s Jalen Ross was charged with a personal foul after touching Austin Keel, resulting in him falling hip first on to the court.
“It was nothing really serious and I think the referees blew the play out of proportion,” Talley said.
It took several minutes for Keel to regain his composure and in the process split his free throws as the Chippewas went into the locker room trailing the Eagles 25-21.
EMU went ahead 29-26 in the early stages of the second half on Glenn Bryant’s one-handed dunk as his face was leveled with the rim and Fowler fouled him on the play. Bryant completed the three-point play to make it 30-26.
Darell Combs’ steal as he fell to the floor set up a half-court pass to Raven Lee for the layup to put the Eagles ahead 44-33 with 12:41 left.
The Chippewas got to within six points of the Eagles with 3:14 left in regulation, but would not get any closer.
Glenn Bryant sat out the first half (ankle injury).
Rayshawn Simmons was assessed a flagrant one for fouling Karrington Ward while going for a layup in the second half.
On Jan. 22, EMU returns to the Convocation Center when the University of Akron comes calling.
Akron (11-6, 3-1 MAC) is coming off a 75-61 loss at home to the University of Toledo on Jan. 18, which snapped a five-game winning streak.
Demetrius Treadwell led the way with 18 points for the Zips in the loss.
Treadwell also leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 13.5 and 7.9, respectively.
In the teams’ last meeting on Feb. 13, 2013 at the Convocation Center, Akron edged EMU 70-62 as Brian Walsh scored 16 on 4-of-8 from three-point range.
Glenn Bryant led EMU with 11 points.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.