After a sloppy first half, Tim Bond came in clutch as Eastern Michigan rallied behind Bond, who would score 11 points in the second half, including the game-winning three point shot to help EMU rally from being down 15 to Northern Illinois University Tuesday night at the Convocation Center. The Eagles won 75-71.
“I can’t say enough about Tim Bond," EMU coach Rob Murphy said. “Having 17 points, six rebounds, four steals. He was unbelievable and then hit the game winning shot. We had a great performance the last 13 minutes.”
Senior Brandon Nazione, in his last home game for the Eagles, finished with nine points and four rebounds.
“Brandon’s always energetic,” Bond said on Nazione’s role as a senior. “He always has a lot of effort and he likes to dig in people when they make a mistake. I’m like his little brother and he’s my big brother.”
The Eagles started off the game lethargic as they committed 12 turnovers in the first half, leading to NIU scoring 16 points off of those turnovers. NIU would also hit five triples to take a 45-39 lead at halftime.
“When we came into halftime, Marshawn Wilson had 23 points," Murphy said. “So that was huge and he scored most of his points on Brandon Nazione and Jordan Nobles’ size. So in the second half we challenged those guys, the two power forwards on the left side of out zone to be active and not short closing.”
The Eagles began to pick it up in the second half as a couple of quick steals and second chance baskets cut the lead to seven. The Eagles would get two blocks, another steal and got to the line to bring the lead to two with five minutes left.
“I thought James Thompson did a great job of controlling the paint," Murphy said. “I thought Jordan Nobles and Brandon in particular put their bodies on guys today and not allowing them to roam free for offensive rebounds.”
A lay-up by Ty Toney cut the lead to one, but Marin Maric injured his leg in the process of blocking it. He would also tear off the siding of the hoop in that attempted block.
Play continued, only for it to be stopped again to inspect the hoop to make sure that it was put back to the right height after repairing the siding. Nazione would make one free throw to tie the game and a jumper from Toney would put the Eagles up two with a minute left.
“Tonight we found five guys in the last 15 minutes that really wanted it; and those guys delivered tonight," Murphy said.
NIU tied it up but Bond, who was 0-4 from beyond the arc, hit the clutch triple to give the Eagles the lead and the win.
“I knew it was good as soon as it left my hands,” Bond said. “It felt better than all the other four that I shot. I was like ‘man, that’s going in.’”
The Eagles will travel to the University of Toledo Friday night for their last regular season game. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.