Despite his fourth straight double-double, James Thompson IV and the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team could not defeat the Nittany Lions of Penn State University as they fell, 81-70, in State College, Pa. on Saturday afternoon.
The first half belonged to Penn State as it took advantage of Eastern Michigan’s sloppy handling of the ball. Eastern Michigan quickly took to settling for shots as they shot 9-for-28 in the first half. Eastern Michigan took a lead early into the game, but began to lose it as they had six unforced turnovers. Eastern Michigan also had trouble shooting from beyond the arc, going 1-for-8. Eastern Michigan started to fall apart in many ways going into halftime, including Willie Mangum missing a wide-open lay-up and Thompson throwing an open pass out of bounds to Brandon Nazione.
“I thought for the first 12-13 minutes we did a great job defensively. We were able to rebound the ball and get out on the break and score the basketball," EMU coach Rob Murphy said. “During a pivotal time [in the first half] we missed a lay-up, they came back and hit the three.”
The second half did not start off in the Eagles’ favor as they committed two turnovers within the first minute. Penn State opened up the lead to as much as 23 points before the Eagles began to make an attempt at comeback in the game.
Conflict arose though as Thompson drew his first technical foul of the season as he stood over a player following a foul. After that event, Eastern Michigan had trouble on the defensive end as Penn State began a storm of three pointers. Eastern Michigan cut the lead to single digits but the effort wasn’t enough.
“We continued to fight and fight, but we couldn’t get any closer than nine,” Murphy said.
“That’s a tough, physical team. They’re long, they compete, and they played hard. I knew they would challenge us, challenge our manhood," Penn State coach Paul Chambers said. “When you have a big like [Thompson], it teaches our bigs how to play without fouling.”
Thompson recorded his fourth consecutive double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds in the game. Mangum finished with 15 points on 50 percent shooting while guards Ty Toney and Raven Lee finished with eight points each. Toney grabbed five rebounds, while Lee grabbed three rebounds. Jodan Price had trouble finding his touch but finished eight points and two steals.
The Eagles come back home to face the Warriors of Rochester College Tuesday at the Convocation Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.