Note: this article was written prior to most sporting events, including the NCAA tournament, being cancelled or suspended.
The Eastern Michigan Eagles (16-16, 6-12) men’s basketball team headed into the first round of the MAC Tournament against the Kent State Golden Flashes with hopes of making a deep run in the tournament. EMU has an all-time record of 32-34 in the MAC Tournament, dating back to the 1979-80 season.
The Eagles have won the championship and automatic NCAA bid four times, most recently in the 1997-98 season. This MAC Tournament was the fifth match up between Kent State and Eastern Michigan, their first match was in the 1995-96 season when EMU beat Kent State 84-72.
Recently, the Eagles have beaten the Golden Flashes in their last two contests. EMU demolished Kent State, 70-49, on Feb. 18. Even though the Eagles fought hard against Kent State during the regular season, they ended their MAC tournament journey when they lost 86-76 to the Golden Flashes on Monday night.
Noah Morgan, a junior who is in his first season with the Eagles, earned a career-high of 30 points during this game, which included six 3-pointers made. He kept the Eagles in the game every time it seemed like the Golden Flashes were going to pull away and win in a blowout.
Boubacar Toure, a senior who was playing in his final collegiate game, and teammate redshirt junior Ty Groce tied for second on the team in scoring with 14 points. Thomas Binelli added eight points and two steals after a 12-point performance against Toledo in the final game of the regular season.
Toure broke a four-minute Eastern Michigan scoring drought at the 15:37 mark of the first 20 minutes. The scoring continued to go back-and-forth over the next four minutes. Groce added a couple of nice plays with a two-handed slam and a fast break layup with intentions to keep up with Kent State.
To end the first 20 minutes of play, Kent State went on a 9-5 run to give themselves an 11-point lead at 39-28. In the second half, it was all Morgan for the Eagles. The Golden Flashes were up by double digits for the majority of the half but every time it seemed to be out of reach, Morgan would go on a scoring of his own.
He was nearly unstoppable, finishing with 30 points, four assists, and two rebounds on 61.1% shooting from the field and 54.5% shooting from 3-point range as he knocked down six triples in 36 minutes. He also added two points from the free throw line. With that said, though, Morgan wasn’t able to bring the Eagles all the way back and they ended up falling 86-76, despite getting the deficit down to three points in the second half.
With the loss, Eastern Michigan’s season comes to an end with a 16-16 record as they will not participate in any postseason tournaments. Kent State, who was scheduled to face Ball State in the quarterfinals, will also be done for the year as the MAC Tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus. All NCAA events through the spring have been shut down.