Redshirt senior Elijah Minnie’s 29 points help the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team to a resounding 93-67 conference victory over Western Michigan University Saturday in Kalamazoo, Mich.
This win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Eagles. It improved their record to 9-11 overall, and their conference record to 3-4.
“The win feels great, it always feels good to win,” senior Tristan Thompson IV said. “It was great for us to be able to come on the road and get a win, especially against an in-state rival.”
Minnie tied his career high for points in a game, shooting 11 for 19 from field goal range, and 7-13 from 3-point range. In the first half, Minnie started the game scoring his first 13 points without missing a shot.
“The hoop looked really big tonight,” Minnie said. “I just give credit to my coaches and the coaching staff. When you put good work in it rewards you.”
Thompson notched the 68th double-double of his career with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and senior Paul Jackson earned a double-double of his own with 12 points and 10 assists.
“It’s really nice to have someone like James,” Minnie said. “You can never not depend on him; he’s always going to come in and play his game,”.
Eastern took the early lead with two made free throws by Thompson to score the first points of the game and never relinquished the lead, only making it larger. The largest lead of the game for Eastern was 29 points with 7:08 left in the second half.
“It’s important to set a tone early; you definitely don’t want them to feel comfortable in their own house,” Minnie said. “It was good that we started out strong the way we did.”.
Western Michigan senior Seth Dugan put up a valiant effort with 29 points to keep the Broncos in the game. He was the only player for the Broncos to score in double figures. Dugan’s offensive production slowed in the second half thanks to the Eagles defense.
“We made an emphasis to play physical with him,” Thompson said. “We wanted to make the game more physical for him, and we did that in the second half.”
A large portion of the Eagles offensive production came from 23-second chance points from 17 offensive rebounds.
“We are probably the biggest team in this league, so we should always be the top rebounding team at the end of the night, win or lose,” Minnie said.
Not to be outshined by the offensive performance, the Eagles defense also had a helping hand in the win. The Eagles forced 16 turnovers, and the offense scored 27 points off of those turnovers.
“Getting those easy transition points, that’s big for any team,” Minnie said. “If you are turning defense into offense, you are probably going to win that game.”
Eastern has a quick turnaround, they must go back on the road to take on a tough matchup against Central Michigan University Tuesday night, Jan. 29.
“Hopefully we can finish out 11 straight, that’s the goal,” Thompson said. “Just keep on pushing and learn from this game.”