The Eastern Michigan University men's basketball team made its way south to Peoria, IL on Tuesday, Nov. 15, to take on Bradley University inside of Carver Arena in a preliminary campus game of the Cancún Challenge college basketball tournament. An unrelenting Braves’ defense never allowed the Eagles to establish any sort of offensive rhythm as EMU fell to Bradley, 89-61.
In the losing effort, star sophomore Emoni Bates led the way for EMU scorers with 20 points, while fellow sophomore Colin Golson Jr. was the other Eagle who found his way into double-digits with 11 points.
Both teams struggled coming out of the gate as the score was only 4-4 after five minutes had elapsed in the contest. After a pair of made free throws for Bradley’s Malevy Leons, who would go on to lead the Braves in scoring, sophomore Javante Randle came in off the bench for EMU and scored two quick buckets on a jumper and then a layup to give the Eagles the team’s only advantage of the night at a score of 8-6.
Sophomore Yusuf Jihad also provided some needed spark off the bench for the Eagles when he converted two assists from redshirt freshman Legend Geeter into two made layups in under a minute. Geeter would then register a steal, catch an offensive board on the other end, and subsequently hit a jumper of his own to cut the Braves’ advantage to just two points as Bradley led, 19-17, with 6:29 to play in the first half.
The Braves would go on a 22-4 run to close out the half while holding the Eagles to a 31 percent shooting from the floor and an ice-cold 14.3 percent from deep. The lone three-point shot converted by the Eagles would come from Bates from way behind the arc with roughly a minute to go before the break.
Coming out of intermission with a 41-21 advantage, Bradley would stretch its lead to as many as 34 points while the team shot an efficient 56.3 percent from the field in the second half.
Bates played his best basketball late, scoring 17 of his 20 points in the seocnd half, and was again showcasing his range from the three-point territory as he knocked down a pair of shots from at least 25’ out. The NCAA three-point line distance is 20’9” for reference.
EMU as a team played much better offensively in the second half of the game, nearly doubling their scoring production from 21 to 40, but it was too little too late as Bradley added 48 team points in the second half to outpace the Eagles by the final score of 89-61.
Bracketed play for the Cancún challenge will begin one week from now on Nov. 22, when the Eagles will play Purdue Fort Wayne at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in Cancún, Mexico. The tournament will consist of eight total teams from different conferences around the NCAA, highlighted by Auburn University, who sits at 13 in the AP top 25 rankings.
EMU will have an opportunity to regroup and attempt to gain some momentum back before heading out of the country for the tournament over the holiday break when the team plays Oakland University this Saturday, Nov. 19. The Eagles will head to Rochester Hills, for a 3 p.m tip-off against the Grizzlies that can be followed live on ESPN+ and WMYD-Detroit.
For more information on the Eastern Michigan men’s basketball team, you can visit EMUeagles.com.