Eastern Michigan University forced Norfolk State University into 17 turnovers in its 58-54 win Tuesday night in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament at the Convocation Center.
Coach Rob Murphy was proud of EMU’s defensive effort, despite giving up 30 first-half points.
“Anytime you can defend, that kind of helps you get through a game and have a chance to win it at the end,” Murphy said. “I thought we gave up way too many easy baskets in the first half, but we still gave up 30 points to [Norfolk State].”
Mike Talley led Eastern (22-14) with 14 points, including 11 in the first half.
“Offensively, Talley was really good,” Murphy said. “He made free throws late in the game and hit two huge three-pointers when needed most. He also did a great job of getting the ball where it needed to be.”
Raven Lee added 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting and 2-for-5 from long range.
“I thought [Lee] could have finished a few more plays, but all along, he was aggressive,” Murphy said. “He made some good shots, but along with [Talley], I was impressed with the backcourt.”
Malcolm Hawkins finished with a game-high 16 points for Norfolk State (19-15).
Brandon Goode scored 12 on 5-of-9 from the field and two made free throws.
RaShid Gaston grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds in 32 minutes.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair as the largest lead was five points (NSU 11-6 at the 14:31 mark). The Eagles were able to go into halftime with a 31-30 advantage over the Spartans.
Eastern held Norfolk State scoreless for the first 4:38 of the second half highlighted by two blocks near the rim from Daylen Harrison.
The Spartans would keep the game within single digits for the next 14:57.
Talley split two free throws to give EMU a 57-54 lead with 25 seconds left in the game.
Eighteen seconds later, NSU’s Pendarvis Williams, who finished with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, released the ball from three-point range and went off the front end of the rim as Karrington Ward grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Gaston.
“[Pendarvis] is a guy that has good range,” Norfolk State coach Robert Jones said. “He couldn’t get a good shot off for some reason and that hurt us because we had to foul [Ward] and we knew it was over.”
Ward spilt a pair of free throws with three seconds left as the Spartans were unable to get another shot off on the final possession.
The final attendance listing was 373.
EMU’s 22nd win gives it the most in a season since 1996-97 (22) and its first postseason victory since the 1995-96 campaign (Duke, first round of the NCAA Tournament).
Da’Shonte Riley fouled out with 3:23 left in the second half.
NSU: 20-of-48 (41.7 percent)
EMU: 19-of-46 (41.3 percent)
Eastern will play in a second round contest on the round either Friday, March 21 or Saturday, March 22, at a site to be determined. The Green and White will have to wait for the outcome of the remaining CIT first round games to finish before re-seeding and distributing of pairing are released.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.