YPSILANTI, Mich. —- The gray and wet overcast Saturday afternoon outside the friendliest basketball arena in the Mid-American Conference and the home of the Eastern Michigan University basketball program the Convocation Center only dampen the concrete walls of the building.
The Eagles began the game against the Rocket knowing that they hold the 11th seed in the upcoming Mid-American Conference but closing out the regular-season at home gave the Eagles a chance to celebrate the graduating seniors from the squad.
The Senior Day celebration was not wasted as the Eastern Michigan University Eagles defeated the University of Toledo 69-50, sending the graduating players out as winners.
This rainy Saturday afternoon would be the final regular-season games for Eagle small forward Jay Higgins, swingman Will Cooper and the best power forward in the conference and player that does it all for the Eagles Brandon Bowdry.
Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Charles Ramsey showed some class by starting the seniors against the Rockets and that added the ingredient of emotion carried the Eagles in the first half shooting an impressive 57 percent from the field giving the Eagles a 41-30 half time lead.
The Eagles used a combination that worked early in the season; a strong contribution from the bench and a pesky defense that pushed the Rockets on their collective heels.
The senior leadership on the floor that Ramsey and his coaching staff have been waiting for finally arrived.
“I have had them for five years and Jay Higgins forever they are great kids. They put the program back into place and with the graduation we will be 20 for 20 in graduation that has never happen here, it is seniors and you hate to see them go but it is a rite of passage,” Ramsey said about his senior class after the game. “We have never finished in last place!”
Leading the Eagles offense with another double-double Bowdry finished the game with 27 points and 10 rebounds and he also had six assist. The Eagles as a team finished the game with 20 assist which Ramsey said he felt happy with and gave his team an edge on offense.
Bowdry finished the regular-season career with his 39th double-double.
“He is going to be an all conference player for the third time,” Ramsey said about his star power forward.
The Eagle defense frustrated the Rockets in the second half; Ramsey made some adjustment after halftime. The first half the Rockets shot 50 percent from the floor and the University of Toledo basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk said he thought his team would build off of that and the momentum would be enough for the Rocket offense.
“I thought we would regroup after the first half,” Kowalczyk said outside his team’s locker room. “We did not make foul shots and every time we made a move and get to the line we just did not make free throws. A big disappointment and it is just a collation of frustration.”
The Rockets were led by forward Anthony Wright; he scored 15 points and finished the game with three rebounds.
The Eagles will be on the road Tuesday night March 8, 2011 for the Mid-American Conference Tournament and it looks like they will be going to the James A Rhodes Arena and the home of the University of Akron for the opening round.
The game against the Zips is schedules to start at 7 p.m.
“That is why we like the post season play we get a chance to right a lot of wrongs,” Ramsey said about the upcoming Mid-American Conference Tournament. “Getting a convincing win today it really helps.”
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.