YPSILANTI —- One and done!
The end of the basketball season ended with a loud thump of a missed shot missing everything except the floor under the basket next to the EMU cheerleaders as the Eastern Michigan University, the fifth seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament hosting the 12th seed Northern Illinois University ,the winner of only three conference games defeated the Eagles 55-52.
Eastern Michigan University basketball coach and named by the Mid-American Conference as the Coach of the Year, Rob Murphy said after the game Saturday afternoon the Eagles did not play EMU basketball and maybe they were looking past the Rockets because of the upcoming Monday night game.
Eastern Michigan University and Northern Illinois University have just meet once in tournament play and Eastern Michigan University defeated the Huskies 65-59, March 7, 2010, that was then and Monday is the now.
Northern Illinois University basketball coach Mark Montgomery and his Huskies met on the court against the Eagles for the third time this season and Montgomery believes that should help his team to settle into the offense and recognize the holes in the Eagles’ 2-3 zone defense.
“I give my team the credit,” Montgomery said after the game. “They worked hard and kept the faith, this is the best defense we have played all season.”
Eastern Michigan University offense completely out-of-sync for the entire first half, a little better in the second half but down the stretch a turnover from point guard Darrell Lampley sealed the doom for Eagles.
“I thought that (Darrell) Lampley did not have a good floor game tonight, he made a lot of mistakes and bad decisions with the basketball especially in the first half,” Murphy said about the play of his team’s point guard. “I give Northern Illinois a lot of credit, they came here been here a couple of days and got comfortable and made plays down the stretch and we didn’t.”
Lampley and Jamell Harris led the Eagles with 13 points and forward Derrick Thompson scored 12 points making four three-point shots. Harris also led the Eagles by getting eight rebounds.
The Eagles tried to do too much at the offense end of the court by trying to make the extra pass and panic running the offense and did not trust the patient and deliberate style of offense.
At the start of the game, the offense panic when the Eagle defense gave up a three-point shot after losing the tip off and suddenly there was a race with themselves trying to catch the Huskies.
The Eagles missed their first 10 shots from the floor finally a put back by Matt Balkema at the 10 minute mark of the half ending the drought. The Eagles only made three basket from the floor in the first half.
Harris revived the crowd and his team when the Eagles with about 4 minutes to play in the half settled down and moved the ball around before Harris made a move and put the ball through the hoop with authority.
“The first half was a struggle, it seem like we came out a little tight, for what ever reason,” Murphy said standing in the passage way outside the locker room. “We had good shots, we had some lay ups that we missed and we couldn’t find ways to score baskets. It seemed there was a lid on the basket.”
The Eagles finished the game shooting 34 percent from the floor and that is the shooting average of the season for the Eagles.
The Huskies took on the scoring runs made by the Eagles and the Huskies always seem to have a shot to take the momentum away from the Eagles.
At the 11:10 mark of the second half the Eagles took the lead when Lampley found just enough of an opening in the Huskie defense and drove to the basket and made the lay up.
The small but vocal fans in the seat became loud and excited and then it happen what Murphy described as the play that turned the game around, a turnover made by Lampley on an inbound play.
“The play that stands out in my mind, where we lost the game we lost control of it because there is usually one or two plays were a coach pinpoints to see if we would have done something different,” Murphy said about the play that seemed to seal the Eagles fate. “We were up by two with four or five minutes to go and we finally went up and make them make a lot of mistakes we fouled them and they miss two free throws. from a really good free throw shooter. They almost get that offensive rebound and it goes out of bounds we take it out and we have two seniors Antonio Green take it out Lampley come and get the ball and it goes off his leg.”
“If we get that ball in we go up by four maybe five,” Murphy said. “There is a chance, they might have cracked right there in our building.”
The end of the season came too early and the Eagles did win the West Division but the bowing out of the tournament after one game makes the season bitter-sweet for many Eagle fans.
One and done what a terrible feeling.
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.