The Rockets (17-15, 8-10 MAC) actually took the lead for a brief period, but EMU’s defense came up big in the final two minutes to secure the win.
Redshirt junior Raven Lee led the way with 19 points, along with four huge steals. Additionally, freshman James Thompson IV notched his 18th double-double of the season, posting 11 points and 12 boards, six of which came on the offensive end. Sophomore Tim Bond had another solid game, notching 15 points, four rebounds, three assists, and five steals.
Defensively, Eastern matched a . . .
The Eagles shot 25-of-57 from the floor, and dominated in the paint by a 34-20 margin. They also went 14-of-21 from the free throw line, setting the single-season program record for FT makes in a season.
Senior center Nathan Boothe notched a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the season to lead UT. Three other Rockets – sophomore guard Stuckey Mosley (12 pts.), junior guard Jonathan Williams (11 pts.) and freshman forward Nate Navigato (10 pts.) – also scored in double digits.
Eastern Michigan took control early by forcing eight turnovers in the first nine minutes en route to a 16-5 advantage. Williams and Mosley ended a four-minute scoreless drought with five quick points to cut UT's deficit to 16-10 with 10:01 remaining in the first half.
The Eagles took their largest lead of the game, 36-16, following senior forward Brandon Nazione's three-pointer two minutes before halftime.
Toledo then caught fire with 12-0 spurt spanning the first and second halves to cut the Eagles' cushion to single digits. Mosley opened the second half with a traditional three-point play and a three-point shot before Boothe nailed a jumper to bring the Rockets within 36-28 with 17:51 remaining.
UT couldn't get any closer until over 10 minutes later when Navigato buried a trey from the top of the key to make it a four-point contest, 53-49, at the 6:35 mark.
The Rockets kept pushing and tied the score at 55-55 on a Williams' trey with 2:57 remaining. Following a Bond miss, freshman guard Jaelan Sanford's layup gave UT its first lead since the opening minute.
EMU immediately responded with nine straight points thanks to three straight Toledo turnovers. Back-to-back layups from Bond and Lee put the Eagles back in front 59-57. Bond then drove to the basket for a three-point play, putting UT down 62-57 with 1:05 to play.
Eastern Michigan closed out the victory by making seven of eight free throws in the final minute.
The Eagles now advance to the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament, where they will square off against No. 1 seeded Akron in Cleveland. Tip-off from Quicken Loans Arena is set for noon, Thursday.
(Courtesy of EMU & UT Athletics/MRO Edit)