The Eastern Michigan Eagles (12-11, 2-8) men’s basketball team fell, 59-58 to the Akron Zips on Saturday, Feb. 8, at James A. Rhodes Arena. The loss snaps a two-game winning streak for Eastern Michigan, despite being led by Ty Groce’s 15 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
The Eagles and the Zips were in for a close second half when junior Darion Spottsville hit a two-pointer to tie the game at 49 apiece with 5:56 left to go in the half. Spottsville’s jumper was the start of a 10-3 run over the next four minutes for EMU. With just 49 seconds remaining on the clock, junior Noah Morgan hit four consecutive free throws to give the Eagles a six-point lead.
However, the Zips regained momentum and then went on a 4-1 run to cut the Eagles lead to two. The score then sat at 58-56 with 16 seconds to go. After a missed free throw from the Eagles, the Zips drained a 3-pointer and took a one-point lead with 4.5 seconds left. The Eagles attempted a buzzer beater shot but didn’t make it.
The Eagles had three players to score in double digits. Groce led the Eagles in scoring with 15 points. It was also his 16th double-digit scoring performance. Next in scoring was redshirt senior Boubacar Toure. Toure recorded his ninth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Spottsville recorded a career-high of 13 points, along with a career-high of six rebounds and two assists.
The Eagles had the advantage over Akron in shooting percentages. The Eagles shot 50 percent from the floor, while the Zips shot 34.6 percent. However, the Zips performed slightly better from the 3-point line. The Zips shot 20 percent from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Eagles shot 18 percent from deep in the loss.
Even with the loss, the Eagles did out-rebound the Zips. EMU grabbed 36 boards while Akron hauled in 32. EMU also held the advantage in points in the paint. Eastern put up 34 points in the paint while Akron had just 24 paint points. The Eagles and the Zips were able to capitalize from offensive rebounds by having a close battle in second chance points. EMU scored six second chance points and Akron finish with five.
Both teams fought hard on defense by forcing a number of turnovers. Akron’s defense forced EMU to turn the ball over 14 times. The Zips also gave up 11 turnovers of its own. The Eagles had quick hands on defense by recording seven steals. Along with the seven steals, the Eagles added three blocks. The Zips grabbed only two steals of the game and were able to move the ball around as the team dished out a total of 13 assists.
EMU will travel to play the Central Michigan Chippewas on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant. The Eagles will try to get back on track and win their third conference game of the season. Following that game, Eastern Michigan will return home to face rival Western Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Convocation Center.