The Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team is fresh off a thrilling comeback victory over the University of Toledo, 76-69, after trailing by as much as 12 points in the second half. With just five games remaining in the regular season, the Eagles are gearing up for another MAC tournament run.
Eastern Michigan is 3-1 in their last four games and seems to be finding their rhythm at the perfect time. They’ve had victories over Northern Illinois University, Ohio University and the University of Toledo over the last two weeks. Rob Murphy’s team will stay at home at the Convocation Center for the next two games against rivals Western Michigan University and Central Michigan University before going on the road for two of the final three games of the year.
“We’re coming down the home stretch and you have to protect your home floor,” Murphy said following the victory over Toledo. “Now you have two more at home, and anytime you’re at home, you want to protect it. The next game becomes the most important game. Now we just have to focus on Western. When we play good defense, we play really good offense.”
The main reason the Eagles were able to pull off the upset over Toledo was because of the seniors. Paul Jackson, Elijah Minnie and James Thompson IV all contributed at a high level and led by example. The three combined for 56 points, 16 rebounds and six assists while knocking down 63.6 percent of their 3-point shots and shooting 68.4 percent at the free-throw line. Going forward, the seniors will continue to carry the load.
“We’re seniors, so we’re pretty much the leaders of this team,” Minnie said on Tuesday night. “When we play, when we’re doing well, everybody follows. I give credit to the seniors that played well tonight, and hopefully we can carry it into the next game.
Eastern Michigan is now 12-14 overall (6-7 MAC) and trails Central Michigan in the standings by just one game. Western Michigan sits last in the MAC West with a 2-11 conference record, while Central Michigan is 7-6 in the league, as they’ve won their last two games against Ohio and Kent State University. EMU faced the Broncos on Jan. 26 and won 93-67 on the road, behind 29 points from Minnie. The Eagles nearly defeated the Chippewas as well earlier in the year but lost by four points.
“Every game is a must win from here on out,” Minnie said. “We’re not going to be lackadaisical and sleep on Western. We’re going to take it one game at a time,” he added.
“To come home and protect our house and beat the top team on our side. It’s a great win. We just have to keep it going this Saturday,” Jackson added.
The Eagles will take on Western Michigan on Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Convocation Center.