TOLEDO, Ohio — Mother Nature reminded us that she can still holler loud and clear and we better be paying attention when she speaks.
The wind created inside on the floor of the Bob Nichols Court was the heat created by the hot shooting of the University of Toledo offense.
The adjustment made by the University of Toledo basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk after the last meeting with the Eagles back on January 21, 2012 worked because the Rockets defeated and took the wind out of the sails of Eastern Michigan University 76-51, Saturday afternoon March 3, 2012 inside Savage Arena.
The Rockets finally broke a six game losing streak against the Eagles in front of 4,764 appreciating the win because the last win came way back in Jan, 2009.
The Rockets blistered the net in the first half by shooting 50 percent and by crashing the offense boards getting 14 rebounds back and by scoring 11 second-hand points to take a 10 point lead at halftime.
The Rockets finished the game shooting a respectable 46.2 percent from the field led by Rian Pearson who scored a game high 27 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Pearson received help from the floor from guard Curtis Dennis, he scored a career high of 21 points and he found his way to seven rebounds.
Pearson said after the game that the difference between the other meeting against the Eagles that his team attacked the gaps in the zone.
“Tried to move without the ball,” Pearson said. “Attack the gaps, we ran more of an motion offense and it got me some more open looks than the first time we played them.”
Dennis said it feels good and he feels that team is ready for the tournament. He found out Friday morning that he would be starting against the Eagles.
“The last time we played them I really did not shot well,” Dennis said. “Today I just wanted to make as many as I could.”
It looked like the Rockets were falling to early with the perimeter shot but when a team makes half of their shots then it is easy to look for the jump shot first.
“I thought that our zone offense tonight was efficient,” Kowalczyk said about his team success shooting the ball. “A complete team effort and it was a good way end the regular season.”
The Eagles zone press did not control the tempo of the first half or any portion of the game.
“We were not active on defense and we made a few shots the first five or six minutes and we forgot who we were and against Toledo you can’t do that. They want you to play an up and down game,” Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy said outside the locker room. “They want you to keep scoring and we did not continue to stay patient.”
In the middle of the first half, the Eagle offense fell into a drought and struggled with Toledo’s man-to-man defense.
Early in the game the Eagles were getting good looks and making some shots but around the 14 minute mark of the first half Murphy felt the game slip away from the Eagles.
The Eagles took some poor shots and then got caught in the transaction game by the Rockets.
“We allowed them to get early baskets in transaction and we took a few bad shots,” Murphy said.
Murphy halftime adjustment is simply to play the defense the way it is supposed to be played and box out under the basket to get the rebounds and to limit the shots.
“We did not get out on defense, we did not play defense at all, we did not contest any shots,” Murphy said about his team’s effort against the Rockets. “We did not rebound the ball well we gave then six or seven open looks and they made them and to their credit they made shots this was not our normal defense.”
The scoring drought continued for the Eagles in the second half.
The Eagles shot just 31.3 percent from the floor, gave away 23 fouls and out rebounded by the Rockets 41-37.
The start of the second half contained a turnover by Darrell Lampley, he tried to get down the sideline only to lose the dribble and the ball fell out of bounds. A block shot by Matt Smith under the basket as he placed his whole hand on the shot by junior forward Jamell Harris.
Lampley finished the game leading the Eagles with 13 points and five assists but Lampley who is good at getting the long rebound could only get one rebound for the entire game.
The emotion of the block shot caused Harris to commit his third foul in the game. Before Harris fouled out of the game he scored seven points but he lead the Eagles with nine rebounds.
“We did not have hands in the face or we did not get over screens,” Murphy said. “I told our guys do not get satisfied by just winning the MAC West championship let continue to get better and that is a part of it to continue to motivate knowing that we have a home game Monday and we were on the road and the job was complete as far as the regular season is concern.”
The Eagles’ team bus rolled out of the parking lot and caught a tailwind down the expressway Murphy is hoping that there is plenty of wind left in the sails Monday night at the Convocation Center for the opening game of the 2012 Mid-American Conference Basketball Tournament beginning at 7 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.