Five EMU players finished with double-digit scoring efforts in the game, as the Eagles (13-12, 5-7 MAC) won back-to-back games in conference play for the first time this season.
Leading the way for Eastern was freshman James Thompson, who finished with 20 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the season. It was . . .
Other Eagles in double figures were junior Ty Toney, who went for 17 points and three steal; sophomore Tim Bond with 14 points; senior Brandon Nazione, who dropped 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds; and redshirt-junior Raven Lee, who notched 11 points off the bench.
As a team, EMU shot 43.5 percent (27-of-62) from the floor, while only hitting one three point attempt all game. The Eagles out-rebounded the Golden Flashes (16-9, 7-5 MAC) by a 41-32 margin, including 19-10 on the offensive glass. The Green and White forced KSU into 15 turnovers, turning them into 12 of their points. Eight of the turnovers were EMU steals. Finally, EMU dominated in the paint, outscoring KSU 46-36.
Eastern knocked down the first bucket of the game, but from there struggled to get anything going offensively. KSU scored the next seven points to take a 7-2 advantage early on, before the squads began to heat up as the period rolled on, especially Thompson, who scored eight out of the first 10 points for Eastern. After the second media timeout, EMU trailed 12-10.
Soon after that, Eastern took the lead with free throws and a Nazione fast break dunk. After trading buckets, EMU scored the next six points to open up a 20-14 lead midway through the half.
Kent State knocked down the next two buckets, but EMU answered back, going on an 11-2 run highlighted by a Bond three-ball and four Nazione points. Down the stretch of the first half, Eastern held its largest lead of the game at that point, 31-20. The Eagles failed to score in the last four minutes, but held KSU to only three points, taking a 31-23 lead into the half.
Shooting just 40 percent (14-of-35) in the first half, Thompson nearly recorded a double-double in the opening 20 minutes, grabbing 12 points, nine rebounds, a block and a steal. Bond was the next high scorer with seven points, while Nazione and Toney completed the first half scoring for EMU with six points apiece.
Although Kent State shot at a 40 percent (8-of-20) clip as well, the Eagles shot 15 more from the floor in the opening half, helping them to an eight-point lead at the break.
Coming ut of the half, EMU maintained a steady six-to-eight point lead. Eastern Michigan led, 41-33, at the first media timeout.
From there, KSU began to claw its way back into the contest, outscoring EMU 9-4 over the next stretch to trail 45-42 at the next media timeout. KSU kept the pressure up after that, retaking the lead at 9:40 for its first advantage, 51-50, since the 11 minute mark of the first half.
Eastern handled the adversity though, scoring seven of the next nine to retake a 57-53 lead. EMU maintained a 61-56 advantage coming out of the final media timeout.
Kent State got to within four points with around three minutes to play, but EMU extended it back to double-digits with just under a minute to play. Despite Kent hitting a pair of three pointers and getting the deficit back down to 73-70 with five seconds to go, Toney hit two clutch free throws to secure the 75-70 victory.
Eastern Michigan at Ohio (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET)
Western Michigan at Kent State (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET)
(Courtesy of EMU Athletics)