It was the fifth-straight season opening victory for the Green and White, as Eastern has yet to lose a lid lifter since head men's basketball coach Rob Murphy took over the program prior to the 2011-12 campaign. Junior Willile Mangum IV led the team in his EMU debut with 18 points and four steals.
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EMU's vaunted 2-3 zone harassed the Catamounts' (0-1, 0-0) offensive attack early and often in the contest. The Green and White forced 21 turnovers, the most since the Eagles defeated Marygrove last season, 83-52. Mangum led the team in steals with four takeaways, while Bond and Nazione had three each. The 21 turnovers allowed the Eagles to grab 25 points off of the Catamount miscues.
As a team EMU was efficient from the field and the charity stripe, shooting 43.1 percent from the floor and knocking down 78.3 percent of their free throws. On the other end of the floor, the Eagles held Vermont to just a 30.8 percentage, while UV managed just a 55.6 mark from the free throw line. That included knocking down just 1-of-6 free throws in the second half. The Green and White were dominating in the paint and in the fast break, outscoring the Catamounts, 34-14, down low, while outscoring UV, 14-0, on the fast break.
Two players got into double-digits for the Catamounts, with redshirt-freshman Ernie Duncan scoring a team-high 14 points, while junior Kurt Steidl finished with a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
The Eagles stormed out of the gate; jumping all over the Catamounts for a 15-5 lead thanks to five early points from Mangum. EMU brought immense pressure early on, forcing seven turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game. The early pressure also brought a lot of fouls EMU's way, as Vermont entered the bonus midway through the half. UV was efficient at converting the fouls into points, as they shot 75 percent at the line in the first half.
The Catamounts would begin to take the advantage back at the seven minute mark, going on a 15-0 run to take a 30-25 lead right before halftime. A late layup from sophomore Ethan Alvano cut the deficit to three, 30-27, at the half. Bond attempted to cut the lead to one, but a charging call following a floating jump shot was called, forcing EMU into the locker room down three at the break.
Beginning the second half, the Eagles quickly tied the game up on a free-throw and a Bond tip-in. The teams would then go blow-for-blow most of the half, with three ties and the lead changing hands twice. Neither team had more than a five-point advantage at any point, until the nine minute mark when the Eastern Michigan offense ignited. A three-point play from Mangum, followed by a bucket from Thompson gave EMU its largest lead of the half, 50-42 at the under-eight media timeout.
Following a timeout, the Green and White started to pour it onto the Catamounts. Led by Mangum with six-straight points, the Eagles finished the second half on a 20-8 run, allowing just eight points in the final 9:52.
Eastern Michigan will face its first road challenge Wednesday, Nov. 18, when it travels just over 50 miles from the Convocation Center to Oakland University for a showdown with the Golden Grizzlies. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m. from the Athletics Center O'rena.