The victory gave EMU the No. 8 seed and home court advantage for the first round of the 2016 MAC Tournament.
Easter will begin the 2016 MAC Tournament Monday when the Eagles square off with the ninth-seeded Toledo Rockets at the Convocation Center. The game will be the second end of a doubleheader as the EMU women's team will begin its game at 5 p.m. The men's game will take place roughly 30 minutes following the conclusion of the women's contest.
Redshirt junior Raven Lee guided . . .
Willie Mangum IV and Tim Bond each chipped in with 13 points, while James Thompson IV added 12 of his own and Jordan Nobles put together a career-best 11 rebounds. In addition to his 13 points, Bond stuffed the rest of the stat sheet with seven steals, six rebounds, five assists and a block. The Baltimore, Md. native's seven steals tied for third-most in a single game in EMU history.
As a team, EMU shot 42.6 percent (26-of-61), while hitting 71 percent (22-of-31) of its free throws.
Nathan Boothe led the Rockets with 26 points, while Jonathan Williams added 19. Toledo shot 46.4 percent (26-of-56) from the floor and 50 percent (10-of-20) from beyond the arc in the loss.
Eastern won the opening tip, but the Rockets settled in early, jumping out to a quick five-point, 9-4, lead. The two squads traded buckets, before Toledo extended its lead to six, 14-8, when Boothe knocked down a wide open three-pointer prompting an EMU timeout.
Out of the break, the Eagles and Rockets converted on back-to-back trips before Lee connected on a corner three-pointer to make it a three-point, 16-13, EMU deficit.
The long ball did not deter Toledo, as UT scored four in a row, before EMU was sparked by Lee yet again. The Detroit, Mich. native knocked down a jumper before he jumped a pass on the other end and drove the length of the floor, finishing on a layup through contact and the foul. The 6-foot-3 guard converted the and-one attempt and Thompson connected on the next trip to tie the game for the first time since the opening tip.
Mangum capped off the 9-0 run with a runner to give EMU its first lead of the game, 22-20, with 7:30 left in the first half. The two squads traded buckets and the crowd at Savage Arena saw a tie ball game as late as 1:42, 29-29. The Rockets, however, closed out the half on a 9-2 run to lead the Green and White, 35-31, heading into the break.
Toledo opened the scoring out of the break as Jaelen Sanford knocked down a three pointer, but EMU fought back, scoring three in a row to keep it at a four-point, 38-34, deficit with just under a minute off the clock.
The Rockets responded with a 5-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game, 43-34, following a three-pointer from Williams. The Eagles came back firing with seven straight points to make it a two point game as Lee scored five of the seven. UT and EMU traded points before four straight points from Eastern gave it its first lead of the second half, 51-50, with 10:18 left to go.
The game went back-and-forth for the next few minutes before EMU took a four-point, 65-61, lead, scoring four in a row, with 5:23 left in the contest. The Eagles never gave up the lead throughout the final five minutes of play as the Green and White used free throws to ice the game.