Hot second-half shooting combined with a smothering defense allowed Oakland University to balloon as high as 24 points before defeating Eastern Michigan University, 77-63. They held EMU to under 40% from the field for the majority of the second half with nine steals on the game.
Early on, the Golden Grizzlies built a promising advantage. They went on a 14-3 run and had as big of a lead as 11 through the first period before the Eagles went on a 9-2 run of their own with junior Tyson Acuff (Detroit, Mich.) hitting a contested fallway three-pointer as time expired to close out the half.
“We ended the half scoring on seven of our nine last possessions. We played well in spurts, but at times we got a little stagnant,” head coach Stan Heath said.
Unfortunately in the second half, they could not build on the momentum they gained at the end of the first half as they shot less than 25 percent behind the arc.
For the Golden Grizzlies, junior Trey Townsend (Oxford, Mich.) led all scorers with 22 points on a blistering 75% shooting from the field while he was active on the glass with eight rebounds.
Heath praised Townsend for his physicality in his postgame presser.
“At the end of the day, I thought their post players really dominated the game. Especially Townsend who was basically a man amongst boys. The times we tried to double, we did not execute very well,” Heath said.
Other leading scorers for Oakland included senior Jack Gohlke (Pewaukee, Wis.) and junior DQ Cole (Pontiac, Mich.) as they chipped in 11 points each.
A bright spot for the Eagles was junior Yusif Jihad (Farmington Hills, Mich.) as the transfer from Oakland was a catalyst in keeping the Eagles in the game on both ends of the floor. He consistently made contested jumpers from beyond the arc and in the post.
Heath was proud of Jihad's play tonight and his ability to make open shots.
“It is good to see him continue to evolve. He is a very good offensive player for us as you can see. He can make some shots and he took a lot of pressure off of Acuff,” Heath said. “I could tell he was locked in and focused.”
Jihad would consistently affect Oakland's offensive attack as opponents struggled to shoot over him. Jihad would finish his second matchup against his former team with 15 points.
After shooting only 44% in the first half, the Grizzlies shot a scorching 55% from the field in the second half to finish the game.
Coach Greg Kampe believes this response was due to how they finished against Toledo and his fiery speech to motivate the team after the first half of play.
“You know we came in here after what happened to us at Toledo and were focused. We would have played well tonight no matter what team in America we were playing,” Kampe said.
Next up, the Eagles travel down the road along Washtenaw Avenue for a matchup against the University of Michigan at the Crisler Center. They will tip off at 2:30 p.m. and the game will be streamed live on ESPN+.
For updates on the EMU men's basketball team, you can visit The Echo's website.