After a big victory over Michigan a week ago, the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team couldn't muster a second straight upset victory, falling to Michigan State 66-46. The Eagles fall to 8-2 on the season while the Spartans improve to 8-3.
Scoring was an issue for the Eagles, starting out poor with 18 percent from the field in the first half, and finishing at 22 percent.
“You aren't going to win too many games scoring 40 in division one basketball.” EMU coach Rob Murphy said. “We did a poor job offensively executing throughout the game.”
EMU kept the first half close, only down 11-10 after the first 10 minutes of the period. Michigan State took over afterward, outscoring the Eagles 23-9 to take a 34-19 lead at the break.
Guard Raven Lee started out very slow, coming up scoreless throughout the first half, while forward Karrington Ward only scored two points. Mike Talley led the first half scoring for the Eagles with five points off the bench.
Momentum began to swing in EMU's favor to start the second half, going on an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to 36-27 at the 18 minute mark of the half. EMU was aided by the Spartans getting into foul trouble early on, committing six fouls within the first four minutes, including committing four fouls on EMU’s first offensive possession, which ended with Lee completing a three-point play for his first points of the game.
Michigan State proceeded to pull away from EMU starting with a 14-4 run, led by guard Travis Trice with a pair of three-pointers. During the stretch, the tables turned on EMU, as the Eagles started getting into foul trouble. Starting center Mike Samuels fouled out while forward Anali Okoloji recorded four personal fouls.
“I thought we had a chance there in the second half.” Murphy said. “We cut it down to 12 a few times, but we couldn’t get the necessary stops where we made a few mistakes, missed a few layups and before you know it, is was back up to 18 or 20.”
Lee finished with 12 points in the game, all from the second half, with Ward and Okoloji following with 7 points each. The team, however, finished 14-of-62 shooting for the game.
“So, we got to go back to the drawing board.” Murphy said. “Told my guys that this is a big game for us, the big picture for us, and I told them this after Michigan, is winning the MAC conference.”
Winning the MAC is still the goal despite three non-conference games remaining, and it is a goal Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said could be accomplished by EMU.
“I have to give credit to Eastern Michigan.” Izzo said following the game. “I think they have a chance to do very well in the MAC. They rebounded well, they can push it, they got some depth, they got some shooters. That zone could frustrate anyone too, I was very impressed with how they play it and how hard they play it.”
EMU will next play Saturday at Missouri State for the last game of the non-conference road schedule. The game will tip off at 2 p.m. from Springfield, Mo.