The Eastern Michigan Eagles (3-0) men’s basketball team defeated Michigan-Dearborn, 72-59, at the Convocation Center on Thursday, Nov. 14. The Eagles were led by senior center Boubacar Toure, who finished with 15 points, 14 rebounds and one steal.
Eastern Michigan started slow against the Wolverines, with the score at 4-3 in favor of Michigan-Dearborn with 18 minutes left in the first half. The Eagles quickly shook off their slow start, though, and gradually ratcheted up the intensity throughout the half. This came from an offensive philosophy change as well as opportunities that Eastern Michigan capitalized on.
EMU amassed 13 fast break points compared to Dearborn’s two, and shot 53.3% from the field and 50% from the 3-point line. Eastern Michigan also had a strong presence in the paint, exploiting their size and doubling Dearborn’s points in the paint with 16. However, in the second half, Dearborn did not quit.
Even though Eastern Michigan led by as much as 25 points, Dearborn cut into the lead and got the score within 11 points. The Wolverines were able to do this by exploiting Eastern Michigan’s defense to get the shots they wanted as they scored 21 points from the 3-point line on 50% shooting, an improvement from 21% in the first half.
Eastern Michigan head coach Rob Murphy discussed the Wolverines’ defense and the Eagles’ slow start: “I credit Michigan-Dearborn, they played three different defenses every few trips up the floor and they would switch it up. That’s what kept us at bay for a while.”
Dearborn also excelled in capitalizing on the opportunities Eastern Michigan gave to them, scoring 16 points off of Eastern Michigan turnovers in the second half. Eastern played hard, and even though they shot 28% from the field and 7% from the arc, they held onto their lead with some key performances from star players.
Toure had 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
“For a four, five-minute stretch Boubacar showed everyone why he should be the best big man in our conference again altering shots, blocking shots, finishing inside,“ Murphy said. "Just that four minutes he changed the game, made a huge impact but we were able to go back up I believe it was nineteen points and we closed on them.”
Chris James and Chris Barnes contributed heavily off of the bench again for the Eagles, combining for 25 points and anchoring the team’s guard play. Murphy touched on his bench: “Chris Barnes is a super athlete, he is really really strong and he can score from the inside and the outside and he is really hard to guard, when he makes up his mind he can make a strong play. And then Chris James brings something different to the table because he is a really good outside shooter, he is one of our quickest defenders and he is a really smart basketball player.”
James and Toure led Eastern Michigan’s scoring, tying at 15 points for the team-high. Eastern Michigan plays the University of North Texas on Saturday, Nov. 16 and then plays UMBC and North Carolina A&T on Nov. 22 and Nov. 24, respectively. Both of these games will be played in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
“Championship caliber teams relish these moments,“ Murphy said.