A combination of good defense and poor shooting for both teams led to a paltry 41-38 Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball victory over Central Michigan University.
Thirty-eight being a Convocation Center record low for an EMU opponent, and EMU’s 41 is a team low on the season, EMU took a 6-5 lead with 13:45 remaining and never relinquished it.
With 26 seconds left, CMU’s Finis Craddock hit a three-point jumper, leaving CMU down by one, 38-39. Darell Lampley hit two free throws with 22 seconds left to put the game away for EMU. Central Michigan held on for the last shot but ended up turning the ball over with four seconds remaining in the game.
The low scoring nature of the game was not unexpected in a game between these two teams.
The Eagles and Chippewas are known for physical, closely fought games and Sunday’s delivered just that.
Central Michigan’s Andre Coimbra played Brandon Bowdry physically for the majority of the game, causing Bowdry to be off his game offensively. Bowdry was held off the scoreboard until 10:06 of the second half, forcing his teammates to be more responsible for putting points on the board.
Bowdry kept his cool throughout the game, despite Coimbra’s hard foul on Bowdry late in the second half. Bowdry walked away from it, and Coimbra earned his fourth of five fouls, which seconds later caused him to foul out.
Derek Thompson and Darrell Lamply finished with 11 points each. Thompson also chipped in with five defensive rebounds.
“We didn’t know if Derek was going to play today,” EMU coach Charles Ramsey said. “ He didn’t feel well, but he drove the ball when he was in there today, and they didn’t expect that.”
Lampley and CMU point guard counterpart, Trey Zeigler (13 points) combined for a dismal 9-for-32 from the field.
Similar to what CMU did to Bowdry, the Eagles did to Zeigler. The Eagles strategy going into the game was to make CMU have to look at other options for offense.
“Let’s make them beat us with other players” Ramsey said.
The second half was full of good defensive plays, especially by the likes of Jamell Harris and Jay Higgins.
Harris had five blocks total, four of them coming in the second half, including a block with 44 seconds left in the game, maintaining the Eagles 37-34 lead.
Harris also shared the team lead in rebounds with senior Brandon Bowdry, both finishing with eight.
Higgins’ production wasn’t as apparent on the scoreboard, but his effort defensively really paid off for the Eagles.
“Higgins worked his behind off” Ramsey said.
In the first half, both teams struggled out of the gate, the score remained 2-0 until the 16:39 mark of the first half.
Sloppy play on both sides was mostly to blame. The teams combined for 18 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Both teams had a lot of open looks, and most of them missed.
The coaches had differing views on the first half. Ramsey referenced the “peach basket” days, a throwback to fundamental basketball when the game was brand new. CMU coach Ernie Zeigler called it the “worst offensive-performance in Division-I” history.
Both teams are struggling this season after meeting up in last year’s season finale that decided the Mid-American Conference West, which CMU won. Both teams are 5-13 overall this season, and 2-3 in the MAC.
“We’re right there,” Ramsey said in reference to the close MAC games they’ve lost this season. “We have to do the little things when the game is on the line.”
The Eagles have 12 games remaining in their regular season schedule, including a rematch of these two teams on Feb. 16 in Mount Pleasant.
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