YPSILANTI — Did you see it?
Your old Uncle Mel witnessed history in the making right before his eyes along with 888 other pair of eyes on the court at the Mid-American Conference friendliest basketball venue and now world famous, record breaking Convocation Center.
It was not a work of art but Eastern Michigan University defeated Northern Illinois University 42-25, a win for the Eagles.
When the game started against Northern Illinois University Saturday afternoon, it looked like it was going to be a good match up between two rivals in the Mid-American Conference teams.
The Huskies won the tip off and moved the ball around the perimeter when forward Abdel Bader suddenly stopped and reached for the sky with the ball and released his jump shot and the ball floated toward and through the hoop and caressed the net and back to the floor.
Who knew that would be the start of history?
That would be the last shot made by the Huskies from the floor for the rest of the first half.
Northern Illinois University offense would cut and weave, the Huskies would screen and find open shots only to miss 29 straight times.
The Huskies shot and incredible 3.2 percent from the floor which broke the record for the lowest field goal percentage in a half of the shot clock era.
The fun night for the Huskies offense continue, Northern Illinois University took 61 shots for the game only making a grand total of eight baskets that is a record setting 13.1 shooting percentage. Northern Illinois University offense only made one three point basket after taking 33 shots behind the arc.
The game is a nightmare that Northern Illinois University basketball coach Mark Montgomery will try and forget as soon as possible but nieces and nephews it was an incredible performance of really bad basketball.
“Our guys played hard!” Montgomery the former Michigan State University assistant said. “Unfortunately, we just couldn’t make a shot. We just needed someone to make a basket to get our team going, but I wouldn’t say that we took bad shots. We had make able, open shots, they just wouldn’t go in but our guys kept defending, kept playing hard.”
The record once held by Savannah State University shot 4.3 percent in the first half against Kansas State University back on Jan. 7, 2004, in Manhattan, Kansas.
Like the host of Dancing with Stars, Tom Bergeron would say it does take two to tango and as bad as Northern Illinois University performed many of the folks in their seats at the Convocation Center would have thought that we would bee seeing a record offensive show by Eastern Michigan University.
We all waited for a star to rise for Eastern Michigan University but for all the misses that the Huskies would throw toward the sky, Montgomery and his team did play hard on defense forcing 15 Eagle turn over which included nine steals and the Huskies worked hard under the offensive boards by getting 23 offensive rebounds which raised an eyebrow from Murphy.
Former Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant use to tell Uncle Mel that sometimes it is harder to coach and keep your players motivated and focused when they have a big lead.
Murphy said sometime that does happens but his team worked hard but a characteristic of the Eagles is that they struggle scoring points.
“With us we are not a great scoring team anyway and I understand that going in, so for us to weave and slow it down a little bit and protect the lead sometime that is part of our game plan,” Murphy said. “In most cases that is we are the best, that power punch scoring ability from one individual. So I knew when we went up 12 or 13 points in the second half we just had to manage the game. Take good shots and really depend on our defense to continue to hold them which we did.”
Both the Eagles and the Huskies finished the game with 42 rebounds but the fact that the Huskies could get 23 offensive rebounds is a concern with Uncle Mel and with Murphy.
Murphy deployed the Eagles’ zone defense which played well against the Huskies, the Eagles would shift well with the ball and force the extra pass, there was no pathway to the middle of the key as Eagles center Da’Shonte Riley stood tall in the middle of the Eagles zone defense swatted away five of the Huskies ill-fated shots.
The game between the Huskies and the Eagles was not performed with style and grace both teams struggled with scoring just made the game for the 888 uncomfortable to watch.
The good news is that Eastern Michigan University won the game and kept themselves in the thick of the West Division title race.
Like most coaches would say and Murphy told Uncle Mel that he would take all of the ugly wins that his team can get because that is whole lot better than beautiful lost.
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.