Eastern Michigan University’s 2-3 zone proved to be effective in its first meeting against the University of Toledo on Feb. 15 at the Convocation Center, holding it to 44 points.
Saturday proved to be a different tale as the Eagles allowed a season-high 77 in Mid-American Conference play against the Rockets at Savage Arena in Toledo, Ohio.
“Anytime you give people open looks and they’re at home, they’ll shoot a lot better,” EMU head coach Rob Murphy said after losing 77-66 to Toledo. “We didn’t do a tremendous job defensively as we’ve done in the last three to four games, but that happens. You hate to close out this way, but the beauty of it is you keep moving on because the postseason is near. Everyone is 0-0.”
Murphy gave credit to Toledo for finishing the regular season on a high note.
“I give [Toledo] a lot of credit for them to have a 26-5 year and for protecting their home court,” Murphy said.
Toledo (26-5, 14-4 MAC West) shot 12-of-25 (48 percent) from three-point range compared to 7-for-25 (28 percent) in the first matchup.
Justin Drummond, who finished with two points against EMU three weeks ago, scored all 22 in the second half and Toledo head coach Tod Kowalczyk commended him for his aggressive play.
“He did a great job of attacking and was the recipient of good looks from the other guards,” Kowalczyk said.
For EMU (18-13, 10-8 MAC West), Karrington Ward’s 20 points matched the most he has put up in conference play this season [Akron on Jan. 22].
Mike Talley finished with eight assists, but came up one shy of matching a season-high of nine back on Dec. 21 against Oakland University.
Raven Lee started Eastern’s scoring with a three-pointer from the wing, but Rian Pearson would respond on the next possession with a layup.
Both teams would exchange leads until EMU’s 10-0 run to go ahead 18-12 with 10:14 left in the first half.
Toledo countered with a 10-3 run of its own that lasted 3:36 to go up 22-21.
Eastern went on a 9-2 run to move back in front 30-24 with 2:41 left in the opening half.
A technical foul was assessed to Rob Murphy and the coaching staff after disputing a call on the court, which jumpstarted Toledo’s 20-2 run that spanned two halves.
“I thought the officials missed a few calls in the first half,” Murphy said. “I didn’t think I deserved a technical foul; the referee missed a call and he gave me a quick one. That’s part of the game and I apologized to my team at halftime because you don’t want to put your team in that situation.”
Ward’s five points highlighted an EMU 9-0 run to make it 44-41 at the 14-minute mark in the second half.
The Eagles would get no closer as they were unable to finish out the regular season with a win.
Eastern clinched the No. 6 seed in the MAC Tournament with Ohio University’s 82-76 win in overtime against Miami University on Saturday.
Toledo finished with a share of the MAC West title with Western Michigan University and will be the No. 2 seed in the conference tourney.
Glenn Bryant sprained his ankle midway through the first half and did not return to the game.
“I know he has an ankle sprain and we will treat it when we get back to [Ypsilanti],” Murphy said.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.