YPSILANTI — The wait is over so let start the party!
The opening night of the 2013 Mid-American Conference arrived in style inside the friendliest basketball arena in the league-the Convocation Center which is the home of the Eastern Michigan University Eagles.
With the doors open wide and the team bus pulling up to the front door and the Ball State University Cardinals departed the warm and cozy bus for a date with Eagles. The Cardinals stepped into the Convocation Center with a chip on the shoulder after being beat twice last season by the Eagles.
Ball State University kept the offense pressure ,executed shots and out lasting a late run by the Eagles and defeated the defending West Division title winners of last season 60-58, in front of 826 inside the warm and inviting Convocation Center.
Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy said after the 90-38, defeat against the University of Kentucky, “I am ready for our league to start!”
After finishing a nice bowl of piping hot New England clam chowder, the Eagles finished the non-conference schedule dropping a 75-61 game against the Minutemen of the University of Massachusetts.
The game took on the typical Mid-American Conference style – a physical game.
“I give a lot of credit to Ball State today, they came into our building and played extremely hard, made some shots early really long three point shots, contested three point shots,” Murphy said after the game. “I thought that they shot the ball extremely well, they rebounded the ball well and Chris Bond did a great job working the short corner base line areas to get behind our zone to score something that we went over repeatly the past two days but he was able to maneuver down there and did a good job.”
Ball State finished the game shooting 58.5 percent from the floor and out rebounded the Eagles 29-16 that led to seven second-chance points.
Eastern Michigan University freshman point guard Jalen Ross stepped up to the free throw line for three attempts from the line with just 8.3 seconds left in the game and Ross made all three of the free throws and tied the score at 58 and desperation for the Cardinals
Ross scored six points and made three assist for the Eagles. Derek Thompson struggled from the field but led the Eagles with 16 points.
“We made a run late, I thought that Derek Thompson was really aggressive and did some good things. Jamell Harris did a tremendous job playing defense rebounding the ball,” Murphy said about some of his players contribution to the game. “J.R. (Sims) did a great job playing the point when Jalen struggled at times. It is though to lose at the end on a foul call.”
Harris made two block shots and scored eight points for the Eagles.
Murphy is not saying that the referee decision decided the game but in that situation especially in the Mid-American Conference where the play is physical but the players should be able to be in the position to decide the game.
Eastern Michigan University added a full court to their defense and with just .6 seconds left Chris Bond got fouled under the basket by Da’Shonte Riley.
Bond stepped up to the line and took a deep breath and let the shot go from the free throw line and scored both basket and the Cardinals ran off the court with the win.
Bond and team mate Jauwan Scaife led all scores with 18 points.
Riley produced no points from the floor and when he was presented the chance to score from the free throw line he missed both shots. Riley played 23 minutes for the Eagles with no points or no rebounds.
Riley transfer from Syracuse University to Eastern Michigan University and stands 7-foot and starts for the Eagles.
When Riley is on the bench Murphy looks for Matt Balkema to provide strong post play.
“Da’Shonte and Matt (Balkema) are not scorers and have not in their career high school or college. We made a concision effort to throw the ball down there a few times but we got nothing out of it,” Murphy said about his post players. “Understand our scorers are going to be Derek Thompson, Daylen Harrison and hopefully Glenn Bryant chipping in but it was not scoring tonight for the first time I thought that we really got good looks and good shots we were aggressive on offense.”
“He was not playing well, I am shocked,” Murphy said about Riley’s contribution from the floor. “I am surprised. I was thinking for the last two minutes Da’Shone would do a great job defensively be active, he had been sitting there and we have a chance to win. He got out of position and foul and put them in position to win the game.”
“I am disappointed with his effort today,” Murphy said.
Eastern Michigan game plan was to keep the ball from entering the post for good shots, the Cardinals scored 34 points in side the painted area.
Eastern Michigan University will be looking to even the conference record with a road trip Saturday afternoon against Bowling Green State University. The Eagles will be visiting the new Stroh Center for the first time and the tip off is scheduled for 6 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.