The Eastern Michigan men’s basketball team kicked off the EMU Classic and the regular season with a 64-52 win over St. Francis University.
Karrington Ward was the leading scorer for the Eagles (1-0) with 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting in 16 minutes. He was 1-of-5 from three-point range.
Ray Lee (11 points, 5-of-9 shooting) and Anali Okoloji (10 points, 3-of-5 shooting) also had good days for EMU.
Ward pulled down a team-best eight rebounds.
Jens Kennedy scored a team-high 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting for the Fighting Saints (2-2).
He also led the team with eight rebounds.
Eastern went on an 8-0 run in the first two minutes of the game. St. Francis answered with two runs (6-3 and 10-4) to tie the score at 22 midway through the half.
Both teams traded baskets in the last 7:21 before Alvano made 2-of-3 free throws after being fouled by Jens Kennedy on a three-point attempt with five seconds remaining in the half.
Lee was Eastern’s leading scorer at the break with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. He made his only free-throw of the half.
Ward scored eight points on 4-of-10 shooting.
Jo Jo Ballestero led the Fighting Saints in scoring with nine points off the bench on 3-of-5 shooting from three-point range.
The Eagles started to pull away early in the second half.
Ethan Alvano made a three-pointer and Anali Okoloji put a layup in off the glass to start a 10-0 run in the first seven minutes as the Eagles cruised to the 12-point win.
The Eagles take on Oakland University Monday night at the Convocation Center.
Eastern last played the Grizzlies at Oakland on Dec. 21, 2013 – winning 81-79 in overtime.
Mike Talley was the Eagles’ leading scorer with 21 points. Glenn Bryant added 14.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Follow Al Willman on Twitter: @AlWillmanEcho