YPSILANTI —- The snow fell last Saturday night in the city of Kent, Ohio and Kent State University shots fell through the hoop and defeated Eastern Michigan University 77-62, the team boarded the bus for the trip down the Ohio Turnpike back home to Ypsilanti.
Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy and his coaching staff work to put the loss against the Golden Flashes behind them and focus the energy against the University at Buffalo, cold and dark February night across the Huron River Valley.
Eastern Michigan University defeated the University at Buffalo 65-46, Wednesday night inside the friendliest basketball arena in the Mid-American Conference-the Convocation Center.
“I thought that we did a really good job defensively any time that you can hold a team to 13 points in a half you are doing a pretty good job,” Murphy said. “I thought the start of the game we gave up some things inside. I thought that Matt Balkema came in and did a tremendous job of controlling the paint a little bit better but getting second chance opportunities with his offense rebounding, I think that he had seven points in the first half. I thought that Austin came in off of the bench and provided us with some offense for us. He was able to get into the lane and create for himself and for others.”
Like sweeping the snow off the windshield the Eastern Michigan University defense blocked and swatted away the Bulls shots and dominated the paint area with strong center play from Da’Shonte Riley and Balkema.
Riley and Balkema played the best game of the season using the their size and being physical under the basket and getting into good position for making shots and knocking the ball out of the sky, like falling ice cycles.
Riley scored four points and blocked one shot but he changed plenty of shots taken by the Bulls. Balkema hulled in six rebounds and blocked one shot he took up a large amount of space under the basket and he did not get pushed out of position by the Bulls power forward Javon McCrea who led Buffalo with 15 points.
After the break both teams came back to the court ready for a good MAC basketball game.
The Bulls came out with some defense intensity but the Eagles defense continued to force the Bulls shooters to change their shots.
Eastern Michigan University Austin Harper entered the game from the bench to play at the point for Murphy and he scored 10 points in contributing to the victory. The Eagles bench players out scored Buffalo’s reserve players 28 to 8 and Murphy said not only did Harper played a strong game but J.R. Sims provided the glue for the team and hit some big shots.
Sims was a perfect three of three from the field and finished with seven points for the Eagles.
“I am very comfortable and try to get everybody involved,” Harper said about the difference of his performance. “Taking better shots, I forced a lot of shots in the first half so the second half I just tried take what the defense gave me.”
Eastern Michigan University offense likes to run the weave at the top of the key and against the Bulls they ran it perfectly, the weave opened up the middle of the lane and the Eagles found 36 points in the paint
Murphy said that the weave is designed to take the shot clock down so the Eagles can run an isolation play.
Leading the scoring for both teams, Eagles forward Glenn Bryant with 17 points including a tremendous dunk that shook the dust off of the rafters inside the Convocation Center and woke up the 522 Eagle fans sitting in the seats.
“The defense and coach is always saying that I am an energy guy and I feed off of my defense,” Bryant said about his play during the game. “So I just went out there and give it all that I could on defense and the offense is going to come.”
The Eagle defense only gave up five baskets to the Bulls in the second half and finished the game shooting 41 percent from the floor. The Eagles out rebounded the Bulls 33-29 getting 13 offense rebounds that led to the Eagles scoring 21 second chance points.
“I do not think that we came out of the locker room with enough assertiveness, I don’t think we were ready to play,” University at Buffalo basketball coach Reggie Wetherspoon said after the game about his team’s performance against the Eagles. “We were too submissive to compete.”
Eastern Michigan University will continue the season Saturday night Feb. 9, 2013, against the University of Toledo at Savage Hall in Toledo, Ohio with the tip off scheduled for 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.