YPSILANTI —- Is there anything better to do on a cold Wednesday night in the month of February than to arrive early at the friendliest basketball arena in the Mid-American Conference and is the home of the Eastern Michigan University basketball the Convocation Center?
Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball coach Rob Murphy prepared his team to face the team with the nation’s longest winning streak of 15 games the University of Akron-the leaders from the East Division with a perfect 10-0 league record.
The streak continues and is now at 16 wins for the Zips as they defeated the Eagles 70-62, in front of 672 in side the cozy Convocation Center.
“I thought that we got off a slow start tonight. Point guard play was not good from the beginning and it kind of sped us up early on and created a few turnovers,” Murphy said . “I thought once we got settled in and made a few shots the game got better.
The offense for the Eagles included sloppy ball handling errand passes and too many missed shots.
Eastern Michigan University turned the ball over 14 times and only shot 37.3 percent from the floor.
Akron’s offense went to work and moved the ball around the perimeter and found the seam in the zone defense and the Zips shot 53.2 percent from the floor led by Brain Walsh who scored 16 points.
“The thing I like is that it’s somebody different every night. Tonight Walsh carried us,” University of Akron Basketball coach Keith Dambrot said after the game. “(Nick) Harney played well. Before it was Tree (Demetrius Treadwell) and Alex (Abreu). That is what makes a good team.”
Eastern Michigan University’s zone defense forced the Zips into 20 turnovers including nine from the usual and reliable Abreu who runs the point for the Zips. The Eagles also stole the 11 times and cashing in the Akron mistakes for 21 points.
“He kept throwing them to the wrong team and most of them unforced,” Dambrot said about the turnovers made by Abreu. “I kept asking him if he was color blind.”
“If you look at the numbers, we played well. We just turned the ball over,” Dambrot said. “We knew that we could guard them because we knew they were going to play slow and rely on scoring at the end of the clock which is harder against us.”
“I thought that we did a great job in our zone we were active in spurts,” Murphy said about the Eagles defense. “Any time that you can force teams in to 20 turnovers really without pressing is a complement to our zone. We just got a do a better job of locating shooters. I think that (Jamell) Harris gave up a couple open threes, (Glenn) Bryant gave up a couple of open threes and you just can not give up those type of shots.”
Bryant led the Eagles with 11 points but only hulled in one rebound also scoring in double figures for the Eagles forward Daylen Harrison and Anthony Strickland both players scored 10 points. Strickland made eight trips to the free throw line and was perfect for the Eagles.
With 7:04 left in the game, Eagle guard J. R. Sims made a move and got in between the Akron defense and placed his lay up attempt through the hoop to tie the score at 45-45 and suddenly the crowd became vocal and the atmosphere started to turn positive along with the momentum for the Eagles.
The Zips passing game was on displayed all night but none better than in the last seven minutes of the game. With great ball movement around the perimeter and with a good screen that got Eagles point guard Jalen Ross hung up and allowed Walsh to get a good look at the basket and make the bucket from behind the three-point line.
“With four minutes to we were right there we were down two and with all that happen with the up and down game they hit back-to-back three at the top,” Murphy said. “Jalen got screened on one, J.R. got screened on the second one, I think those two plays is what really stretched the game out and decided the game. We never could get back.”
Murphy said that he liked what he saw from his post player Da’Shonte Riley against the Zips.
Riley led the Eagles with seven rebounds and he scored six points.
“Da’Shonte did great protecting the paint, he does not have great numbers to show for ot but he did a great job,” Murphy said. “He has been practicing hard all year.”
“He has been motivated he has some success last game he had 13 rebounds four block shots he did carry over his aggression today.” Murphy said describing Riley’s improvement. “Playing against (Zeke) Marshall through out their high school careers and knowing each other both being 7-footers in this conference. He wanted to play well so he was motivated by that as well but more important moving forward he is getting better. This is his first full year of basketball night in and night out he is working hard. So I am excited for him and hopefully he continues to success.”
The next game for the Eagles will be Saturday afternoon, Feb. 16, 2013 in Muncie, Indiana at Ball State University.
The tip off at Worthen Arena is scheduled for 2 p.m. CST.
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.