The Eastern Michigan men’s basketball team has now dropped back-to-back losses as Akron’s hot shooting gave the Eagles a 92-88 loss Tuesday night in Akron, OH.
Despite the loss, five Eagles finished in double-digit scoring, including Willie Mangum, who finished with 22 points. Jordan Nobles played a career-high in minutes for the Eagles, he would finish with six points and four rebounds.
“I thought we started the game extremely well tonight in locating their three point shooters," EMU coach Rob Murphy said. “I thought we allowed them to get some free looks. I thought Isaiah Johnson really impacted the game in throwing [McAdams] the ball.”
The game was scoreless for the first minute and half with EMU guard Ty Toney scoring the first points of the game. The Eagles and Zips would then go back and forth for the next seven minutes, with the Zips taking a three point lead with eleven minutes to go in the half. But the Eagles would stifle the Zips on the defensive end and score some quick baskets to regain the lead with nine minutes left. The Eagles would go on a 13-0 to take an eight point lead with seven minutes left in the first half.
The Eagles kept the momentum going, extending their lead to twelve with five minutes left. Nobles would help with that lead, recording a block and a jumper in under a minute. But the Zips took advantage of the Eagles’ poor transition defense to cut the lead to five with three minutes left in the half. The Eagles went into halftime leading 40-34, shooting an impressive 53 percent from the floor (15-28).
Coming out of halftime, a trio of threes by Akron's Reggie McAdams put the Zips up 43-42 in the first two minutes of the second half. James Thompson would get his third foul with fourteen minutes left, but a vocal altercation with Isaiah Johnson lead to him getting a technical foul and his fourth foul.
“In my opinion, he maybe should’ve gotten a warning because both guys were talking to each other," Murphy said. “I can’t tell you why that particular ref decided to give him a technical. But to give him a technical that quickly was a bit concerning for me. I don’t think it was warranted.”
EMU’s zone defense would be exploited by both McAdams and Johnson, who quickly took an eight point lead going into the final ten minutes.
“Everybody thinks people play zone to take the inside game away. They play zone to keep you from shooting the ball outside," Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. “They make you go inside. I thought our guys did a great job of getting the ball inside, and that put them in a predicament. I think they got hurt because their big kid got in foul trouble.”
Thompson was limited to nine points after spending time on the bench in foul trouble.
“He doesn’t want to foul much because they don’t have a lot behind him," Dambrot said. “That’s probably why their zone hasn’t been as good as in the past."
The Eagles worked their way back to a 71-70 lead with five minutes to go in the game. But late shooting by Akron would give them an eight point lead with less than one minute left. EMU would foul multiple times, but it wouldn’t be enough as time ran out before the Eagles could cement a comeback.