YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) – The Eastern Michigan Eagles entered Friday night's contest against the University of Toledo needing a win, a Northern Illinois victory over Ball State and a Miami loss at Ohio to secure a first round home game in the 2015 Mid-American Conference Tournament. All three of those things happened as the Eagles (19-12, 8-10 MAC) did their part by posting a dominating 85-59 victory over Toledo (19-12, 11-7 MAC) Friday at the Convocation Center.
Eastern Michigan is a No. 8 seed and hosts No. 9 Miami on Monday. The Eagles and RedHawks split the regular season series, with each team winning at home.
Toledo heads to MAC tournament play as the No. 4 seed, giving the Rockets a bye until quarterfinal play when they will play in the 6:30 p.m. game at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
The 85 points for EMU is the highest Eagles point total against a MAC opponent this season. Also, 54 points in the second half is the highest total in a single half since the Eagles put together a 69-point second half against Marygrove College, Nov. 14, 2008.
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Karrington Ward also had a night to remember, pouring in 18 points with 16 of them coming in the second half on "Senior Night." Freshman Tim Bond played his best game offensively, netting a career-high 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while Raven Lee finished in double-figures for the Eagles, as he scored 17 points.
Toledo was led by J.D. Weatherspoon who recorded his third straight double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Nathan Boone and Julius Brown scored in double-figures as well for the Rockets, finishing with 11 points apiece.
EMU shot 45.6 percent (31-for-68) from the floor, while holding the Rockets to 32.2 percent (19-for-59). The Eagles forced 20 turnovers, which turned into 28 points for the home team. UT held the advantage on the glass (45-40), but Eastern outscored the Rockets in the paint by a 44-28 margin.
Talley scored the first five points for Eastern Michigan as the Eagles held an early 5-0 advantage. EMU held Toledo scoreless for the first 3:34 of the contest before back-to-back triples from Brown and Jonathan Williams gave the Rockets their first lead of the contest, 6-5.
The teams traded buckets until the second media timeout, as the Eagles held onto a slim 14-12 lead with just less than 12 minutes to play in the opening half. Toledo came out of the timeout and scored the next eight points, capped by a pair of free throws from Kurt Hall to take a 20-14 lead. Talley split a pair from the line to stop the run, but Weatherspoon scored four straight, including an emphatic dunk, on an inbounds play to give the Rockets their largest lead of the game, 24-15.
The Eagles took control from there, however, going on a 16-3 run over the next 4:31 to grab a 31-27 lead. Bond scored seven points during the run for EMU. Toledo added a basket as the time expired in the first half and the teams reached intermission with the Eagles leading 31-29.
Lee led all scorers in the first half with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Talley posted nine points, three rebounds, and three assists in the opening 20 minutes. EMU shot 40 percent (12-for-30) in the first half compared to 34.4 percent (11-32) for the Rockets. UT held the advantage on the glass, 24-17 but the Eagles and Rockets both scored 16 points in the paint.
Eastern began the second half just as it finished the first, opening the final 20 minutes with an 18-4 run over the first six minutes to grab a 16-point advantage, 49-33. Ward capped the run with a jumper and three-point basket on consecutive possessions to force Toledo Head Coach Tod Kowalzcyk into calling a timeout at the 14:06 mark.
EMU dominated the second half, outscoring the Rockets 54-30. The Eagles held a 20-point advantage for the final five minutes of the contest and led by as many as 26 points, which was the final margin. Following Talley's basket at the 5:13 mark of the first half, EMU finished the game with a 70-35 advantage.