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MAC Tournament: Eastern Michigan Eagles Pull Away in Second Half to Defeat Miami Redhawks
By Evan Meyer
The Eastern Michigan Eagles pulled away in the second half to defeat the Miami Redhawkjs 58-47 in a second round game of the 2013 FirstEnergy MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
Eastern Michigan (16-17) has won two MAC Tournament games for the first time since they won the tournament in 2008, and will face the Western Michigan Broncos in the quarterfinals on Thursday night. “I thought we played pretty good overall,” EMU head coach Rob Murphy said after the game. “Our point guard play was not good, but defensively, I though we were very good.”
Senior guard Derek Thompson led EMU with 14 points, while fourth-year juniors Daylen Harrison added 11 and Glenn Bryant had 10. Junior center Da’ Shonte Riley also chipped in 10 points with nine rebounds. “It was a big victory for us,” Bryant said. It is our first win in Cleveland for a while. We feel we let the MAC west title slip away from us, so we fed off of that.”
Miami (9-22) ended their season losing 11 of their last 12 games after beating Bowling Green in the first round on Monday night. “We had far too many turnovers,” Redhawks coach John Cooper said afterwards. “When you turn the ball over that many times against Eastern Michigan and their zone defense, it certainly limits your possessions.”
Junior forward Will Felder led MU with 14 points and eight rebounds, while fellow junior Jon Harris added 14 with three boards, three assists and a steal.
MU opened a five-point lead midway through the first half of this defensive struggle, 10-5, at the 10:53 mark on a layup by freshman reserve Reggie Johnson–who finished with six points in the contest.
EMU then used a 9-0 run to take the lead, 14-10, at the 7:27 mark on a jumper by junior guard J. R. Sims who finished with eight points.
Miami tied the game on three occasions, the last being 25-25 when Harris connected on a three-pointer with 40 seconds remaining in the half. Just before halftime Thompson matched it with a three of his own to give the Eagles a 28-25 lead at intermission.
Even though it was a low scoring affair, both teams shot the ball well in the first half at 47 percent, EMU was 11-for-23 while MU was 8-of-17, the difference was the Hawks turning the ball over 11 times resulting in 11 Eagles’ points.
At the start of the second half, the Eagles scored the first five points of the period, part of an 8-0 that spanned both halves to take a 33-25 lead on a free throw by Bryant at the 17:43 mark.
The Redhawks closed to within four points, 33-29, on a layup by Felder with 16:48 remaining. However, that would be the closest they would come for the rest of the game.
As good as both teams shot in the first 20 minutes, it was a far cry in the second half as EMU made just 8-of-21 shots (38.1 percent) and Miami was just 6-of-23 from the floor (26.1 percent). EMU dominated the second half glass 21-12 while MU continued their turnover bug, committing nine in the second half and 20 for the game costing them, 19 points.
When asked about the turnovers, Felder said, “Just throwing the ball away without any type of defense definitely hurt us.”
The Eagles face the Broncos for the first time in tournament play since 2008 when they lost here on the North Coast in the quarterfinals 70-61. In the regular season, both teams split winning on their home court; WMU on January 23rd in Kalamazoo 63-59 while EMU was victorious in Ypsilanti 50-49.
“They are the West Division champs,” Murphy said. “They are the favorites. They are the best team on our side.”
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