Despite win, Eagles continue to struggle with fouls

Despite Eastern Michigan’s 79-34 victory over Siena Heights University Friday afternoon at the Convocation Center, foul trouble has continued to haunt the Eagles.

Freshman center James Thompson fouled out for the second straight game after picking up four personal fouls within the first eight minutes of the second half.

“I wanted to see how many minutes James Thompson could play on the floor without picking up senseless fouls,” EMU coach Rob Murphy said after Friday’s game. “We weren’t successful in that category.”

Thompson has dealt with foul trouble in all three of the Eagles’ games this season.

In the home opener against the University of Vermont, Thompson picked up two fouls within the first five minutes. Murphy pulled Thompson and then Vermont went on a 27-to-16 run to end the half and gave them a 30-27 lead. Thompson would come back out in the second half, avoided fouling out and scored seven points, nine rebounds and three blocks in 20 minutes of play.

In Wednesday’s matchup against Oakland University, Thompson tallied two fouls in the first half and was pulled with eight minutes remaining with the Eagles up 23-16. With Thompson on the bench, Oakland went on a 23-to-9 run to end the half. Thompson would play the second half and fouled out with five minutes remaining in the game and the Eagles would lose, 91-81.

“Every team will try to attack [James] inside,” Murphy said. “Once he leaves the floor, our defense takes a dive.”

The depth behind Thompson is thin with playing time coming from senior forward Brandon Nazione and redshirt freshman forward Jordan Nobles, neither of which are true center position players.

“It’s tough for a guy like Jordan Nobles who is playing the five, because we’re down a few guys, and the four. He has to play two positions in our defense,” Murphy said. “He struggles at times and it’s hurt him more than anybody.”

Even with the foul trouble, Thompson has still averaged 7.7 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game and 3.6 blocks per game.

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