With the win, the Eagles (2-2) will take on the winner of the second game between IUPUI and Howard, while the Runnin' Bulldogs (0-3) will square off with the loser of that contest.
Senior Willie Mangum IV was . . .
Gardner-Webb began the contest with a 14-0 run using four triples and a long jumper, while the Eagles missed their first seven shots, before EMU finally broke the seal when Mangum knocked down a corner three-pointer but the Runnin' Bulldogs responded with a three point play from Brandon Miller to take a 17-3 lead with 14:54 left in the opening 20 minutes.
With the Eagles looking at a 14-point deficit, Gardner-Webb got into a little bit of foul trouble. Baylee Steele sparked a 13-0 EMU run with a pair of free throws, while Mangum and Bond combined for three long balls to help the Eagle offense get on track. In total, the Green and White went on a 21-6 run to jump on top by three, 24-21, with 7:49 remaining in the first half.
As the Eagles and Runnin' Bulldogs traded buckets, EMU held a two-point, 31-29, lead with 3:44 to go in the half, Eastern pushed the lead to double-figures, 42-30, on the back of an 11-1 run, with Mangum scoring nine of those points. GWU knocked down a pair of free throws to cut the EMU edge to 10, 42-32, with just 45 seconds remaining, but Bond found Thompson on an alley-oop to close out the half and head into the locker room with a 44-32 lead at the break.
Mangum began the game as the hot hand, posting 23 points in the first half on 7-of-7 shooting, including a staggering five three-pointers, which tied a career-high for the Richmond, Va. native. Thompson led the Green and White's rebounding effort in the opening frame with seven rebounds, but it was the turnover battle that proved to be the difference. The Eagles forced Gardner-Webb into 14 turnovers and scored 20 points off of those miscues, while EMU coughed up the ball just six times.
Heading into the second half, the Runnin' Bulldogs grabbed three quick points, but Lee responded with a long ball to make it a 47-35 contest in favor of Eastern. After trading buckets, Gardner-Webb was able to cut the EMU lead to six, 51-45, at the 15:59 mark but the Eagles responded with a 7-0 run over just four minutes to take a 13-point, 58-45, lead.
EMU eventually extended its lead to 15, 63-48, with just under nine minutes to go in the game and maintained a double-digit lead for all but 30 seconds until the Runnin' Bulldogs cut into Eastern's lead late but the Green and White were able to hold on to the lead, leaving the floor with a 76-68 victory.
The Eagles return to action Saturday, Nov. 19, when it squares off with the winner of the IUPUI and Howard contest which began directly after the Eastern Michigan victory over Gardner-Webb. Game time is slated for either 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. depending on EMU’s opponent. Should Eastern Michigan square off with IUPUI, it will begin action at 1 p.m.
(Courtesy of EMU Athletics)