The Eastern Michigan Eagles (15-15, 9-8 MAC) pulled out a 68-61 win against the Ball State Cardinals (15-15, 6-11) after an efficient scoring night Tuesday, March 5 at the Convocation Center.
Seniors James Thompson IV, Elijah Minnie and Paul Jackson led the way for the Eagles on Senior Night. Thompson led both teams in scoring and rebounding with 20 points and a career-high 23 rebounds, while also breaking EMU’s record as the all-time rebounding leader. Jackson followed behind with 17 points, and Minnie finished with 13.
“My main key has been dominating the glass, offensively and defensively,” Thompson said.
Ball State had three double-digit scorers. Tahjai Teague finished with a double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Tayler Persons had 13 points, and K.J. Walton finished with 10.
In the first half, Eastern Michigan shot 51 percent, while Ball State made 39 percent of its shots. Both Eastern Michigan and Ball State struggled shooting from deep. The Cardinals missed all nine of its attempts from deep in the first half, and the Eagles made only 2 out of 10 attempts.
Both teams scored frequently in the paint, though. Eastern Michigan put up 24 points in the paint during the half, while Ball State tallied 22 points. The Eagles held a slight advantage in rebounding in the first half as they pulled down 18 rebounds, 13 of which belonged to Thompson. The Eagles were able to close the half with a double-digit lead, 36-24.
Ball State attempted to come back in the second half, improving its 3-point shooting to 42 percent. The Cardinals were also able to out rebound the Eagles 23-15 in the second half. Despite being outrebounded, EMU was able to exploit the Cardinals defense in the paint by scoring 34 points inside.
Eastern Michigan’s foul trouble kept Ball State in the game. In just the second half alone, Ball State made 15 out of 19 attempts. While the Cardinals capitalized from free-throw shooting, Eastern Michigan capitalized off turnovers. Ball State committed 12 turnovers, and the Eagles scored 17 points off those turnovers.
“We just want to play together and turn down good shots for great shots,” coach Rob Murphy said. “We want to make sure our spacing is in order, and we set good screens for each other. I thought we did a really good job of playing together.”
The Eagles will be closing out the season on the road against Toledo at Savage Arena Friday, March 8.