The Eastern Michigan Eagles took on Ball State on Tuesday, Jan. 14. Ball State is the fourth team in a row that Eastern Michigan has lost to who currently sit with a 0-4 conference record. Head coach Rob Murphy reacted to the loss: “Tonight, when Ball State was open, they knocked it down. When we had opportunities, we didn’t. That’s the bottom line.”
The Eagles started off very slow, scoring only 14 points in the first half. Three Eastern Michigan players tied to lead the half with three points. Ball State dominated both sides of the ball, playing an offense that exploited Eastern Michigan’s zone and having an answer for Eastern Michigan’s full-court press.
Defensively, Ball State effectively shut down Eastern Michigan’s offense, forcing an 8:23 scoring drought in the first half right after EMU gained their first lead of 11-10. The halftime score was 32-14 in favor of the Eagles as it looked like they were headed for their fourth consecutive loss following an impressive start to the season.
“It all goes back to me but I put it on the seniors. You are 0-3, and you come back home and you have to deliver as a team collectively but also your most experienced players, the seniors in the program,“ Murphy said. "So anytime we have Ty Groce with four points and Boubacar (Toure) with six points it’s going to be very difficult for us to win.”
The Eagles came out in the second half with a passion, with back-to-back dunks from Toure a minute and a half into the second half. Yeikson Montero carried that energy with two steals and four points over the span of a minute which acted like a shot in the arm of the Eagles. Eastern Michigan carried this momentum with stops, steals and blocks to claw their way to a four-point deficit after a free throw from Chris James to put the score at 40-36.Ball State then answered with an 11-0 spurt to pull away from the Eagles for good.
“We have to learn how to play through fatigue and just be more consistent through MAC play,“ Murphy said. “We are going to continue to compete, we are going to continue to learn through film, learn in practice. We have a good Ohio team that’s coming in on Saturday, they beat us in their place a few weeks ago. So again, just finding a way to continue to get better.”
The Eastern Michigan Eagles will take on Ohio on Saturday, Jan. 18 in the Convocation Center. This will be the second time the Eagles have played the Bobcats, with the first game resulting in a 74-68 loss for the Eagles. Eastern Michigan currently ranks in the bottom of the MAC with an 0-4 conference record, despite starting 10-3.