Coming off of a loss to Northern Illinois, the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team stepped up defensively to beat the University of Buffalo. The Eagles held Buffalo to just 24 percent from the three point line and scored 28 points off of turnovers in the 81-69 victory.
“For us we wanted to get back to our winning ways, protecting our home floor,” EMU coach Rob Murphy said. “I thought our guys came out with a lot of energy, particularly on defense.”
The Eagles got into foul trouble early in the first half, with James Thompson collecting two fouls in the first three minutes of the contest. Murphy had to extend the bench as both Thompson and Willie Mangum got into foul trouble early. The Eagles went down early, 14-9, but managed to cut the lead to two, thanks to some quick ball movement and some stiff defense.
The Eagles were then able to tie it and eventually take the lead with four minutes to go in the half. The Eagles and Bulls spent the rest of the half going back and forth, with EMU leading 32-31 going into halftime.
“I thought we did a good job with our first shot defense in the first half, but we allowed them to get offensive rebounds and they scored off of those rebounds,” Murphy said. “Going into the half, we just challenged our guys to rebound better.”
The second half started with a jumper from Raven Lee to put the Eagles up 36-33. Both the Eagles and the Bulls got to the line as the fouls started to pile up. EMU lead 46-41 with 12 minutes to go in the game.
The Eagles caused some quick turnovers to take an eight-point lead with ten minutes left in the game. A deep three by Mangum extended the lead to eleven with fewer than six minutes to go in the game. The Bulls hit a couple of three pointers to cut the lead, but EMU came back with quick scores and free throw shots to put the game away. The Eagles got to the free throw line 47 times in the game.
Ty Toney would be the top scorer for the Eagles, finishing with 17 points. He also had three assists and five steals.
“I’ve always been a defensive guy. It creates easy offense for us,” Toney said. “We just gotta keep working and winning.”
James Thompson finished with a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds. Raven Lee finished with 14 points and four assists. Brandon Nazione improved from his performance at NIU, finishing with 14 points and six rebounds.
The Eagles stay at the Convocation Center as they take on the Bowling Green State University Falcons Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.