TOLEDO, Ohio —- Still looking and hoping!
Eastern Michigan University lost for the 10th time this season on the road, in spite of playing pretty good defense, the Eagles lost 60-52, to the whirling University of Toledo Rockets, Saturday night in front of 4,252 Toledo basketball fans sitting on the edge of their seats in the historic Savage Arena.
Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy said after the game, he thought that his team hung in there and played tough and physical game against the Rockets but too many mistakes from the point guards only added the disappointment of the defeat.
“I thought that it was nip and tuck the whole way,” Murphy said. “Grind it out kind of a game, you have to keep this team out of transition and you do that by taking care of the basketball.”
The Mid-American Conference leading scorer Rian Pearson scored 29 points and getting to 14 rebounds. Pearson intercepted an ally-oop pass, tapped the ball in front of him controlled the dribble and then dribbled the ball behind his back to avoid the Eastern Michigan University defense trying to get back.
Pearson launched himself in to space and then lightly rolled the ball off of the backboard just out of the reach of 7-footer Da’Shonte Riley for two points and crowd inside Savage Arena erupted with the loudest cheer of the night.
“I play real well in zones,” Pearson said. “I think they played to my strengths.”
“That is the toughest zone in the conference,” University of Toledo basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and Rian is the best zone player that I’ve ever had. He can find the seams and the holes and loves coming from behind it to attack.”
“We chart the game and when we were in our zone, it was very, very tough for them to score,” Murphy said. “I thought that Da’Shonte did a great job of protecting the paint along with Matt Balkema.”
Riley scored six points shooting 50 percent from the floor but he pull down 13 rebounds, including five under the offensive glass giving the Eagles another chance at the basket.
The Eagles scored 24 points in the paint and 19 of those points came from hustle and position under the offensive glass.
Leading the Eagles in scoring Daylen Harrison scored 19 points and he also was busy under the boards, he got 10 rebounds. Harrison is a junior and he transferred to Eastern Michigan University from the University of Wyoming.
Murphy said the Eagles were in control of the paint area but he said that the problem against the Rockets is simply keeping the ball in the possession of the Eagles.
Once again, Eastern Michigan University offense just missed too many shots that were uncontested.
“I thought that we missed 12 or 14 shots and we were wide open!” Murphy said about his offense. “Shots that you just got to make, if you make six or seven of those shots it is a different game.”
The Eagles defense blocked eight shots, forced 13 turnovers and out-rebounded the Rockets 43-36 but the offense just could not find enough points from the floor to overcome the Rockets.
The Rockets only shot 34.6 percent for the game from the floor and the shooting slump even continued from the free throw line with Toledo only able to make 64.5 percent of their free throws.
The Eagles took 59 shots against the Rockets but only could convert 33.9 percent and making 19 turnovers did not make the game any easier for the Eagles defense.
“Unforced errors from the point guard for the most part, they turned the ball over,” Murphy said about the reason for the turnovers. “Any time you get 13 or 14 points off of turnovers easy baskets. Or free throws it put you in a bad position.
Murphy said that you can only play solid defense for so long before the opponent scores.
The work continues for Murphy and for the Eagles this week.
The University of Akron Zips will be arriving Wednesday night, Feb. 13, 2013, at the Convocation Center and putting the nation’s division 1 basketball longest winning streak of 14 games on the line against the Eagles.
“We will keep working at it, we have a really, really good Akron team coming in they had a tight one earlier against Miami University,” Murphy said. “We play well at home, so we are looking forward bouncing back against those guys.”
The search continues, Wednesday night and the game is scheduled to start 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.