Eagles edge out Bowling Green in MAC opener

The team talks quick before a free throw attempt in Eastern Michigan's 56-51 win over Bowling Green Wednesday night.

Scoring 56 points Wednesday night in front of 1,205 at the Stroh Center, it was the second-lowest point total through 14 games for Eastern Michigan University.

Yet it was enough to top Bowling Green State University in the teams’ Mid-American Conference opener, 56-51.

“It’s always good to win, especially when you don’t play exceptionally well,” EMU coach Rob Murphy said. “I thought we struggled throughout the game offensively.”

The Eagles (9-5, 1-0 MAC) shot 34.7 percent from the field, with that being the lowest field-goal percentage the team has had since its 70-48 loss at Syracuse Dec. 31. That afternoon was also the only game the team has scored lower than 56 points.

BGSU (6-8, 0-1 MAC) suffered offensively, as well. The Falcons shot 57.1 percent from the free-throw line, which is their fifth-worst percentage in a game this season.

“When you play in a game like this [where] you know it’s going to be a low-scoring game, every point counts,” BGSU coach Louis Orr said. “Statistically we’re not a great free-throw shooting team, so we need to improve that.”

Forward Richaun Holmes was the least efficient for the Falcons, shooting 7-of-13 from the line. However, he led the team with 17 points and posted seven rebounds and two blocks.

“He had 12 points in the first half,” Murphy said. “We didn’t located him in our zone [and] we allowed him to get second-chance points.”

Despite the low-scoring offense, EMU guard Mike Talley didn’t let that stop him from scoring 14 points, his third-highest game total this season. The redshirt junior was 6-of-8 from the free-throw line and 4-of-10 from the field.

Forwards Karrington Ward and Glen Bryant III were other offensive factors for the Eagles as the two shot a combined 50.0 percent from the field.

“I thought they did a good job in the second half,” Murphy said. “[They were] being more aggressive offensively, making a few better decisions.”

Ward had 13 points and 7 rebounds (all defensive), while Bryant III had 9 points, 8 rebounds and a technical foul that he received 6:55 into the second half after a scuffle with several BGSU players.

The incident sparked when EMU guard Jalen Ross and BGSU freshman guard JD Tisdale bumped into one another getting up from the floor after a dead ball. The two were also handed technicals.

With BGSU trailing 15-11, Jehvon Clarke hit the Falcons only three-pointer of the first half with 7:45 left to pull within one.

Holmes was a big reason why the Falcons were in it in the first half with his 12 points, going 4-for-6 from the free-throw line and slamming an alley-oop in the process. His dunk brought his team within one before he tied the game at 17 with a free-throw with 5:59 left in the first half.

With 3:56 to play, guard Anthony Henderson muscled up a layup through EMU defenders to erase the Eagles lead and put the Falcons up 20-19. He had 10 points on the night before he fouled out with 6:27 remaining in the game.

A bucket from Talley and a free-throw from Ward in the last minute allowed the Eagles to take a 24-23 lead into the locker room at the half.

With a five-point lead and 2:30 left in the game, Ward extended it for EMU after getting fouled on a made layup after a 2-on-1 fast break with Bryant III. Talley followed with a layup of his own, then a free-throw on the next possession to create a 53-43 lead.

The Falcons showed late life inside the last minute after Holmes completed a three-point play to cut EMU’s lead down to 54-48, but would only follow it up with a three-pointer from Clarke.

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