The Green and White have now won their last seven season openers and are now 4-0 under head coach Rob Murphy in lid lifters. St. Francis fell to 2-2.
The Eagles (1-0) shot at a 42.9 percent clip as Karrington Ward led the offensive charge with 16 points. Anali Okoloji began his Eastern Michigan career with a double-digit scoring effort, dropping in 10 points.
The Eagles spread the wealth offensively, as Raven Lee came away with 11 points, Ethan Alvano added nine in his debut, and Mike Talley recorded seven.
Defensively, the Green and White held Saint Francis to just a 35.6 percent field goal percentage (21-of-59). Ward notched three steals and a block, while Okoloji and Lee each notched a rejection. Okoloji and Talley each added three steals en route to a dozen EMU steals overall..
Jens Kennedy led SFU with a game-high 18 points, while Jo Jo Ballestero hit 5-of-10 shots from downtown to add 15 tallies.
Things looked promising out of the gate for EMU, as Okoloji knocked down a triple to start an 8-0 Eastern Michigan run, but the Fighting Saints hit on five triples to keep pace with the Green and White. Hot shooting from long range, including three triples, helped
The Eagles and Fighting Saints traded buckets over the next three minutes until Saint Francis scored six of the next eight points to garner its first, and largest, lead of the game at 28-24.
With five minutes to go in the opening frame, Jerome Hunter hit on a baby hook to spark a 6-0 run, giving Eastern a 30-28 lead with 2:54 remaining in the half. Ilya Ilyayev notched things up at 30 with a layup but Alvano converted on a pair of free throws to regain the 32-30 advantage for EMU heading into halftime.
Despite outshooting the Fighting Saints by a nearly an eight percent margin, the Eagles owned just a two-point lead at the break, and the difference was hot three-point shooting by SFU. Saint Francis knocked down seven triples in the first 20 minutes on just 14 tries from the outside.
Eastern managed to shoot just 10 percent from beyond the arc, going 1-for-10. In addition to being outshot from downtown, EMU was outrebounded, 22-18, in the first half. Lee posted a team-best nine points in the first half, while Ward followed up with eight.
Eastern came out firing, beginning the second half on a 13-2 run. Looking at a 45-34 lead with 13:14 to go in the game, Talley lobbed a pass up to Ward and he threw down a thunderous alley-oop dunk, putting an exclamation point on one of the largest leads for the Eagles at 13-points, 47-34.
Talley ripped the ball from Breshion Tucker and took the ball coast-to-coast to finish a layup with a foul, giving him a chance for an old-fashioned three-point play. Talley converted on the free throw, giving EMU its largest lead of the game, 52-36, with 10:36 to go.
The Eagles maintained a double-digit lead for most of the remainder of the game.
For the Eagles, their homestand of seven-straight games played in the Convocation Center will continue Monday when Eastern will continue its in-state rivalry with Oakland University.