Going into the quarterfinals for the third straight year, the Eastern Michigan men’s basketball team’s journey through the Mid-American Conference Tournament comes to an end after losing to the University of Toledo, 78-67.
With the win, Toledo advanced to the semifinals to face off the No. 1 seed, the Central Michigan Chippewas.
"We did a really good job of fighting throughout the game and in the second half it was 45-40 with about 14 minutes to go and I thought that we could make a run at Toledo then," said Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy. "But somehow Weatherspoon had another offensive rebound put-back and came down and hit a three. That was the game from there. We continued to fight, but for us, these guys tried and gave it all they had. But every time you have three guys playing 40 minutes a game and you have an emotional game on Monday against a really good Bowling Green team and give it all you’ve got, and you come play a well-rested Toledo team, who I feel is one of the best teams in our conference, it’s tough. We put ourselves in this position but its tough to beat a team like that coming off a hard fall last night. I give full credit to them; they did a tremendous job,"
The Eagles’ three leading scorers scored in the double digits during the featured game. Raven Lee (G) led the team again in scoring, dropping 16 points and shooting 31 percent from the field (5-for-16). Both Karrington Ward (F) and Mike Talley (G) contributed 12 points each to the team’s score.
Ward shot 55 percent from the field as Talley shot 33 percent along with 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals during the match-up.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to pull out a win against Toledo as they outscored EMU in shooting. Toledo shot 48.3 percent from the field (29-for-60) while the Eagles shot just only 37.5 percent from the floor (24-for-64).
As the first half of the game took off, the Eagles were off to a rocky start as Toledo found themselves on a 7-1 run, leading the game by as much as 13 (36-23) with 4 minutes left in the half. Eventually the Eagles began to pick up the pace, as they scored six of the last eight points to end the first half (38-29).
Eastern shot 37.5 percent in the first half compared to a 50 percent shooting from the field for Toledo. EMU knocked down 16 of their points in the paint as UT dropped 28; UT outshined the Eagles in rebounding, 22-17, but both teams tied in a 9-point second chance opportunity.
As the game carried on to the second half, the Eagles continued to find trouble with catching a lead as the Rockets went back to a double-digit lead of ten points (41-31). Gradually, the Eagles pulled a 7-0 run over the UT, as they pulled the lead within five, 45-40, with 15 minutes left in the game.
Sadly for the Eagles, Toledo continued to dominate in the second half as they pushed the Eagles 5-point trail to 12 points with less than 12 minutes remaining and eventually 20 points with 8 minutes left in the game.
The Eagles found no luck in the remainder of the half as Toledo shadowed the Eagles in the paint scoring 18-points compared to the Eagles’ 10 and pulling out at game winning score of 78-67.
The Eagles ended their season with an overall record of 21-13, averaging 41.3 percent in field goals, 71.3 percent in free-throw shooting, and 37 percent in rebounding for the season.
Even though the Eagle MAC season has come to an end, Murphy said after the game that they accepted a bid to play in the CBI tournament next.