Despite an 18-3 run to start the game, the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team couldn’t hold off a second half rally by The State University of New York at Buffalo and fell 80-70.
EMU freshman center James Thompson and senior forward Brandon Nazione recorded double-doubles in the loss. Thompson scored 18 points and 14 rebounds while Nazione had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Thompson was the leading scorer for the Eagles.
“I thought we controlled the game for the first 34-35 minutes, thought our defense was exceptional to start the game," EMU coach Rob Murphy said.
The Eagles got off to a red-hot start, going on an 18-3 run to start the game. Buffalo would slowly cut the lead to seven with three minutes left when Brandon Nazione would be called for a technical foul for an inadvertent elbow.
The Bulls would fight their way to a one point deficit before Willie Mangum would hit a deep three buzzer beater to put the Eagles up by four going into halftime.
“We made some bonehead plays in the last four minutes of the first half and allowed them to trim the lead,” Murphy said.
The Eagles struggled to extend their lead as the game went back and forth for the opening eight minutes. The Eagles were then able to extend the lead to ten thanks to offensive rebounding and some quick three pointers.
Buffalo would battle back to tie the game with less than four minutes left, taking their first lead of the game on a free throw. The Bulls then extended the lead to ten with under a minute left. The Bulls got to the free line multiple times, including on a technical on Murphy to put to game away.
“It’s a game that you had in the palm of your hands. If you execute on both ends of the floor the last six minutes of the game, you win the game. We were in position to win this game," Murphy said. “We had did enough for 36-37 minutes and we just, simply, didn’t close it out.”
The Eagles return home to the Convocation Center on Tuesday to face Central Michigan University. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.