There is a saying in sports that no lead is safe until the clock hits zero, and the Eastern Michigan men’s basketball team provided the perfect example for that old adage Saturday with an 82-81 defeat in overtime on the road at Miami, Ohio
The Eagles’ took a comfortable 49-30 lead into halftime, but coming out of the half the game turned into a back-and-forth affair between EMU (11-4, 0-2 MAC) and the host Redhawks of Miami (6-9, 1-1 MAC). Miami tied the score at 78 in the end of regulation and was able to shutdown EMU in overtime for the one point win.
“Anytime you are in situations like this, you have to step up and make plays,” EMU coach Rob Murphy said. “And when you don’t, you are on the wrong side of it, and tonight we were on the wrong side with things we didn’t do.”
Guards Raven Lee and Karrington Ward began the first half very well, both scoring 12 points before halftime, including Lee making three shots from behind the arc. However, Miami’s defense toughened in the second half, only yielding six points to Ward and two to Lee in the final 25 minutes of regulation and overtime.
Mike Samuels, Mike Talley and Jodan Price all recorded double-digit point totals, with Talley and Price scoring 13 points while Samuels picked up 11 points, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Redhawks’ second half rally.
“Miami played some pretty good defense,” Murphy said. “We hit some incredible shots in the first half. But saying that, we were in position to win. We had free throws at the end of the game, and if you make them, you come out on top, and when you don’t, you give them an opportunity like they had.”
Ward was fouled with 10 seconds remaining with EMU up 77-75, but only made one of the two free throws, allowing Miami one last chance to tie, and Redhawks guard Eric Washington was able to drain a long three point shot for the tie with three seconds remaining. Miami was able to hold the Eagles off in overtime, only yielding a three-pointer from Price as the only EMU score in OT leading to the 82-81 heartbreaking loss for the Eagles.
“I know how that game must feel to the other side,” Miami coach John Cooper said. “Those are the games that hurt when you lose, but I am obviously glad we are on the other side of. That was just one of those games where you don’t want anyone to lose, but there has to be one.”
The Eagles continue on the schedule on the road in Ohio to face Kent State Wednesday.
“Nobody expected us to start 0-2,” Murphy said. “I know we didn’t. We are still looking for that first MAC win, and now we go to Kent State and will need to finish better there than we did tonight.”
The game Wednesday will tipoff from Kent State Wednesday at 7 p.m.