YPSILANTI, Mich. —- Mother Nature decided to stop by the friendliest basketball arena in the Mid-American Conference and she left behind about six inches of that white powder stuff on the ground that excites many skiers.
Eastern Michigan University basketball played an electric game against the University of Akron Wednesday night at the Convocation Center and sent the 424 brave souls into the crisp clear air a small happy group as they watched the Eagles hold on to a 60-56 victory against the Zips.
“A good win a great job by the kids showed some great resiliency they really grew up when Akron went on that 11-0 run, Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Charles Ramsey said about the Eagles performance. “We came back and went on a run of our own and that show a sign of maturity that we are getting there – we getting there.”
Ramsey said that the Eagles success tonight was due to the strong defensive effort played by his team forcing the Zips into poor shooting and poor shot selections.
“Once again and more important our defense has been excellent that has been the mainstay,” Ramsey said about the key of the game for the Eagles. “We held them to 19 in the first half and it probably could have been 16 our defense is the thing that have been holding us in.”
With regulation time slipping away from the University of Akron, Eastern Michigan University junior point guard Darrell Lampley got whistled for a foul not once but twice the second foul called with just 18 seconds left on the clock and Akron got the chance to make the game in to a nail biter – but failed.
“He did foul and we want the clock to run, the clock is your friend right now,” Ramsey said about Lampley. “Maturity and do not put yourself that position, we do not want the clock to stop it is a teaching moment.”
The defensive game plan for the Eagles was to contain the Zips’ shooters from having a big scoring night and limit the touches by Akron’s center Zeke Marshall.
“Our man-to-man defense was not very good. He got a rhythm early in the second half in man-to-man,” Ramsey said about the play of Marshall. “We were able to switch up it was funny his buckets came in bunches like he hit two in a row in the first half 2 of 3 and then he hit those quick two or three in the second half then he did hit any more what helped us was we went to the zone and he could never get that rhythm back.”
Marshall led the Zips with 15 points and he had seven rebounds at the end of the game.
The game started like the traffic on the road outside the Convocation Center and the weather outside a slow mess and bitter cold, the offense struggles on both sides because the defense pressure by each club produced too many shot to go astray.
Eastern Michigan University defense forced University of Akron basketball coach Keith Dambrot to go to his bench early in the first half looking for a combination to produce some points.
The Eagles defense kept the pressure on the Zips shooters and the perimeter game was not an affective option for Dambrot.
“We matched up with their shooters which is what we wanted to do this all night we did not want them to get going from the tree point line,” Ramsey said. “We did a good job and they hit some desperation threes so we will give them that.”
“Jay Higgins did an excellent job on their leading scorer and holding him to three points he did even have a field goal attempt in the first half and that is (Jay) Higgins doing a heck of a job on him defensively that was a better job on Trey Ziegler,” Ramsey said about his senior forward from North Carolina. “That is the kind of play that we need from our seniors.”
Higgins finished the game with seven points and two rebounds but his effort against Brett McClanahan is a job that frustrated the Zips leading scorer and made Ramsey smile.
Leading the scoring for the Eagles senior power forward Brandon Bowdry, he recorded his 34th double-double of his Eastern Michigan University career with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
Ramsey said the Eagles need to come out with a strong game Saturday afternoon against the Miami University RedHawks and validate the victory against the Zips; a win against Miami would place the Eagles right into the middle of the pack going into the home stretch of the conference.
“We need to come back Saturday against Miami and put together a heck of an effort to validate and we are right back in this,” Ramsey said. “This is the craziest league that I have seen in my life.”
Saturday afternoon’s game will be the second half of a schedule double hitter of basketball action at the Convocation Center, the tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.