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The Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team suffered a tough loss to Bowling Green University, 80-67, at the Convocation Center, Tuesday, Jan. 22.
It was a close game until redshirt senior Elijah Minnie and Antwon Lillard, a Bowling Green senior, started shoving underneath the rim early in the second half. Both were called with technical fouls during the media timeout.
Coming out of the break, Bowling Green hit a three to put them up by nine. Eastern could find no counter punch as their offense stumbled, trying to match Bowling Green’s intensity.
“I thought the complexion of the game changed when the flagrant two was called,” Coach Rob Murphy said. “It was a four-point game at that point. They hit two shots, it goes up to six, and they come out with a three-point play, they take it to nine. Stop us and score again, and it goes to 11. And that was the change of the game.”
Bowling Green made sure to pass the ball around quickly to tire out Eastern’s zone. They also blitzed the glass, despite Murphy trying to lock the paint down.
Murphy explained: “With three bigs on the floor, Boubacar, James and Elijah, without size and athleticism, we have to control the paint and not allow teams to get second chance opportunities so that’s where I thought they had success in the first half, so we have to rebound better; if we control the backboards, we can control the game, and we didn’t control the backboards tonight.”
Eastern’s offense sputtered in the second half, allocating the first two possessions to touches in the paint from senior James Thompson IV. Bowling Green drew a double team to combat this, forcing the ball back out and out of Eastern’s comfort zone.
“[We wanted] to get some inside looks to use our size advantage, and when we didn’t have it, kick it out for open threes,” Murphy said. “I thought we made some bad decisions when we got it inside. They came with double and triple teams; we didn’t make a pass out.”
Eastern will face off against rival Western Michigan University on Jan. 26. Eastern is looking to focus on defense and less turnovers.
“We just have to continue to do what we do best and that’s play defense and rebound the basketball,” Murphy said. "In transition, we had four or five opportunities in the second half, and we had three turnovers in that span. You just can’t do that against a good team, and really against any team, but especially tonight playing against a solid team.”
Eastern is looking to rebound with success in their west conference play. The first step to the MAC trophy is through a win over Western Michigan University.
You can watch the full press conference from the game below: