The Eastern Michigan men’s basketball team is off to a slow start in the MAC after losing two straight games against Ball State (60-59) and Miami (82-81) in overtime. These two disappointing losses put the Eagles at 0-2 record in the MAC with an overall record of 11-4.
The Eagles seem to find most of their struggles with consistent scoring during MAC play and have found hardship with their shot selection behind the arc and making their free throws to close out games.
According to Rob Murphy, EMU’s head coach, the team settled for too many three-point shots and missed several easy buckets behind the free throw line.
“We have to step up and make free throws and we have to step up and make open shots,” Murphy said. “When you don’t do that consistently, you don’t win basketball games.”
The Eagles were 6-25 behind the arc and 19-28 behind the free throw line against Ball State. EMU again struggled behind the three-point line against Miami, only making eight out of 20 three-pointers and were 25-37 at the free throw line.
Statistically, Eastern’s free throw percentages were not bad during the last two games, but free throws become crucial when closing out games and the Eagles found issues with making those important shots during the final moments of each contest.
“We were in a position(s) to win,” Murphy said. “You make free throws in the last 2 to 3 minutes in the game, when they play the foul game; you come out on top. When you don’t, you give them the opportunity and they took advantage of those opportunities.”
Looking on the brighter side of Eastern’s play in the MAC, two of their key players, Karrington Ward and Raven Lee continued to grab a tremendous amount of rebounds.
Karrington Ward (F) recorded another double-double against Ball State, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds and he put up 18 points against Miami. Raven Lee (G) finished the Ball State match-up with a game high 16 points and hit three triples against Miami, ending with 14 points in the game.
Mike Samuels (C) and Jordan Price (F) had double-digit scoring in both MAC games. Price averaged over 40 percent in both games while Samuels averaged 25 percent against Ball State and 80 percent against Miami.
Defensively, Eastern played very in well the MAC games. Rebounding was very solid, grabbing an average of near 20 rebounds both games and getting between 5-10 steals each game. Unfortunately, these positive reviews weren’t enough to net them a win for either game.
So the question is: what can the Eastern Eagles do to get their first MAC win? Keys will be to set-up and make smart plays and to stop settling for too many three-point shots. Like head coach Rob Murphy stated, it is important to stay consistent with shot-taking, and that is something these men have to work on, especially when they face the 11-5 Kent State.
EMU continues to strive for their first win in the MAC versus Kent State in Ohio on Wednesday. Tipoff begins at 7 p.m. and the game can be heard on WEMU (89.1 FM).