With Eastern Michigan University’s 59-44 loss to the University of Toledo in Friday night’s Mid-American Conference tournament semifinal game, here are five things to take away:
1. Second-half shooting woes:
The Eagles became very stagnant for most of the second half as they began to settle for contested perimeter shots going 1-for-13 (7.7 percent) and could only muster four points in the final 6:06 in regulation.
From the field in the second half, Eastern went 7-of-31 (22.6 percent).
Karrington Ward had a second half to forget as his only point came on a free-throw attempt and went 0-for-5 from the field. Ward finished with seven points on 2-for-9 shooting, 1-of-7 from long range and two free-throw makes.
2. Seniors Glenn Bryant and Da’Shonte Riley stepped up:
Glenn Bryant played arguably his most complete game of the season as he led Eastern’s offense with a career-high six blocks and game-high 11 points in 30 minutes off the bench.
From the field, Bryant finished 5-for-7 and 1-of-2 from the foul line.
Da’Shonte Riley played a team-high 35 minutes and grabbed nine rebounds, but refused to use fatigue as an excuse with the Eagles on their fourth game in five nights.
“I didn’t realize I played 35 minutes, but that’s no excuse because I am one of the team captains,” Riley said.
3. EMU held UT to 59 points:
Even in Eastern’s 15-point defeat, it managed to hold Toledo to its second-lowest total of the year with 59.
The Eagles are also responsible for UT’s fewest points this season at 44 back on Feb. 15 at the Convocation Center.
This time around, Toledo’s offense managed to play with more patience and poise as opposed to the 44-point effort.
4. Single-game season low in points:
As mentioned in the first point, Eastern’s second-half struggles led to a season-low in points (44).
Overall, EMU shot 17-of-53 (32.1 percent), compared to 23-for-58 (39.7 percent) in its previous game against the University at Buffalo.
Daylen Harrison, who scored all six points on two critical makes from long-range in the second half against UB Thursday night, was held scoreless against UT on 0-5 from the field.
5. A winning culture being established under head coach Rob Murphy:
In his third year as Eastern’s head coach, Rob Murphy went from inheriting a team who won nine games in the 2010-11 campaign to 21 wins— the most since the 1997-98 campaign.
The ability to get his players to buy into a defense-first mentality could be rewarded as a potential postseason bid awaits EMU.
Eastern will await possible postseason invites from the National Invitational Tournament and/or the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.