Despite freshman James Thompson's foul trouble, the Eastern Michigan men's basketball team defeating the University of Toledo Rockets Saturday morning, 91-85, in Ypsilanti.
Willie Mangum hit five triples for the Eagles. Thompson was held scoreless until late in the second half when he scored on a slam dunk. Senior Brandon Nazione, in one of his last home games for the Eagles, finished with 21 points, including two triples.
“I just had to step up for my team. James didn’t have that big of a day because he’s getting double teamed. [It] feels good that we got the win most importantly,” Nazione said on his performance.
“I think it’s really important for me to play solid and doing what I do best, rebounding and scoring nine, ten, eleven, twelve points," Nazione said. “Whatever my team needs, got to be solid and continue to do what I do best.”
Eastern took an early lead thanks to Mangum scoring thirteen points, including three triples in the first four minutes of the game. After a media timeout, Mangum continued his scoring streak by hitting another triple to extend the lead to eleven.
“Willie Mangum got us off to a great start offensively," EMU coach Rob Murphy said. "[He] hit some really big shots, long threes. So we were fortunate enough to get the start we wanted."
The Rockets cut the lead to six but not before Nazione would drive to the hoop for a monster slam.
Tim Bond and Nazione both hit triples to extend the Eagles lead to 12 halfway through the first half. Raven Lee also hit a pair of triples to bring the lead to 16 with five minutes left in the first half. Ty Toney hit a buzzer beater lay-up to put the Eagles up by 14 at the half. The Eagles made 23 field goals in the first half, which was a record for the Convocation Center.
“We continued to play really good defense," Murphy said. “Jonathan Williams found his rhythm but to take a 12 to 14 point lead into the half, I felt like we were in pretty good shape.”
The second half got started by an 8-0 run by Toledo to cut the lead to six, but EMU would get some quick steals to put the lead to nine with 12 minutes left. The Eagles kept this lead thanks to Nazione driving for another dunk.
Toledo cut the lead to four with six minutes to go but the Eagles came right back and got the lead to seven courtesy of another triple by Mangum. Toledo cut the lead to one before Tim Bond hit a three with a minute and a half left in the game.
Lee was sent to the free throw line and hit both to put the Eagles up four with 30 seconds left. He returned to the line again to put the Eagles up by four with 15 seconds left. Toney hit two free throws and Nazione would get another dunk as time expired to seal the game away.
“I thought throughout the game our guards played well," Murphy said. “Toledo did a good job doubling James Thompson and making it tough on him. What that did was open up lanes for our guards to drive through and opened up lanes for Brandon to get to the rim.”