YPSILANTI —- Finally the regular season is history!
What a great way to end the 2013 regular season with an afternoon game at the friendliest basketball arena in the Mid-American Conference which is the home of the Eastern Michigan University – the Convocation Center against the arch rival from the city of Toledo, Ohio.
The Eagles are looking for a victory to end the regular season and to start the 2013 Mid-American Conference Basketball Tournament on a positive note.
The Eagles did not find the pot of gold at the end of the regular season because the University of Toledo defeated Eastern Michigan University 78-67, so the Eagles are going into the tournament with bitter and sour taste.
“I thought that we started out the game with a lot of energy tonight, obviously it was senior night,” Eastern Michigan University basketball coach Rob Murphy said. “We wanted to send Jamell (Harris), Derek (Thompson) and Matt (Balkema) out on a winning note and that did not happen.”
Like the mighty Huron River in the first half, the Eagles offense flowed and that created the defense that forced the Toledo Rockets’ offense to scramble to find a shot.
Leading the way for the Eagles guards J.R. Sims and Thompson. Sims scored 13 points but he did turn the ball over twice and Murphy said he is giving Sims a lot of credit for playing the point guard position.
Murphy said that Sims offensively did some good things on the court but he also created too many turnovers that helped the Rockets get back into the game.
Thompson led all scores with 25 points, he took 21 shots making 10 from the field.
The Eagles were up by 10 points in the first half but turn the ball over three times in a row and Toledo took advantage of the turnovers and scored to cut into the lead.
The Eagles survived the Rocket’s run and went on a 9-0 run with time expiring in the first half.
In the second half, University of Toledo basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk brought his team out of the locker room with a sense of purpose and desire to play Rocket-style of basketball.
It just seemed like in the second half that the Rockets got to every loose ball, every rebound and made every shot.
The Eagles lost their focus in the second half, they lost ability to score points and there seemed to be too many isolation plays featuring Eagles senior guard Thompson.
“We did not have the same defensive energy,” Murphy said. “We did a poor job, we did not rebound in the beginning of the second half and from there it started to spiral.”
In the first half, the offense flowed because everybody that wore a green and white uniform were focused and in sync with the offense philosophy.
The ball moved around the perimeter, screens were set, offensive rebounds were being grabbed by Eagles under the basket and points were being scored.
In the first half the Eagles held a double-digit point lead, the zone defense played by the Eagles created eight Toledo turnovers and seven steals.
Then it happen, halftime and a chance for Kowalczyk and his coaching staff to make adjustments and the same old and tired scenario for the Eagles appeared another poor start to the second half and no points.
The Rockets’ offense poured through the Eagles zone defense and back cuts suddenly opened up and so did the shooting ability of Toledo’s guard Dominique Buckley.
Toledo shot an amazing 53 percent from the field in the second half and finished the game shooting 50 percent from the floor.
Buckley lead the Rockets by blistering the Eagles defense and scoring 21 points for Toledo, including making five three-point baskets for 15 points.
Eastern Michigan University will open the 2013 Mid-American Conference Tournament, Monday night March 11, 2013 at the Convocation Center starting at 7 p.m.
“I don’t like to lose,” Murphy said after the game. “We will be prepared Monday. “It is post season play everybody is even.”
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.