CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Neither team scored a field goal after 4:46 of the final half, but Eastern Michigan made 6-of-8 free throws while Bowling Green went scoreless down the stretch in a 73-67 EMU victory Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.
I thought tonight was a hard-fought win. Bowling Green continued to challenge us throughout the game. I thought our guards did a phenomenal job. We had seven turnovers in the first half,” Eagles head coach Rob Murphy said.
“In particular, Mike Talley, scoring 21 points, five assists and having no turnovers in 39 minutes was exceptional. Raven (Lee) settled us in early, too, offensively. But, I thought our defense continued to give them problems. Although they scored 67 points and shot a high percentage, I thought we did a well enough job throughout the game to mix some things up to put ourselves in position to give ourselves some rebounds.
With the victory, Eastern Michigan (21-12, 8-10 MAC) advances to quarterfinal play. The Eagles will face No. 4 seed Toledo in Thursday’s 6:30 game. Bowling Green, a No. 5 seed, fell to 20-11, 11-7 MAC. The Falcons have accepted a bid to participate in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT). Details are forthcoming in the next few days.
EMU sophomore guard Raven Lee led all scorers with 27 points. He was 8-of-19 from the field, 3-of-8 from beyond the arc and a perfect 8-of-8 at the free throw line.
“Raven (Lee) is a dynamic scorer. He can score in a variety of ways. I don’t know if anything changed but us challenging him more to take more shots and be more aggressive,” Murphy said. “Contrary to what people may think, he’s too unselfish. He had 27 points tonight, but I thought he was in position to score a few more times. He’s a really explosive offensive player. When he’s focused, he’s as good as anybody in our league.”
Senior Mike Talley also had a big night, registering 21 points, along with five assists.
“Mostly, the strategy for this game was to pull (Bowling Green’s) Richaun Holmes away from the basket,” Talley said. “He was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year this year, so he has a real impact on the game. Our strategy was to get him out of there. Once I saw the lanes open and clear, I tried to take them.”
Forward Karrington Ward posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Forward Richaun Holmes and guard Jehvon Clarke shared game-high honors for the Falcons. Both had 18 points. Holmes was 6-of-7 from the field overall. He connected on his only trey and all five free throws. Clarke hit 7-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and 1-of-3 charity tosses. Guard Zach Denny came off the bench to add 13 points.
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“I credit our guys after an emotional one-point overtime win on Monday to put that behind us, come into this game and be focused to play well enough to move on,” Murphy said.
Both Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan held small second half leads in Wednesday’s contest, which had 17 lead changes. Denny put the Falcons ahead a final time, 63-62, with a bucket at 7:07.
Anali Okoloji’s jumper and a three by Raven Lee gave EMU a four-point lead, but Spencer Parker and Anthony Henderson tallied two baskets to forge the game’s 11th tie (67-67).
The latter’s points came with 4:46 left, but Bowling Green would not score again. The Falcons missed five shots from the field, had two turnovers and did not get to the foul line. In fact, Bowling Green earlier converted its only free throw of the second half after making 10-of-12 before intermission.
Eastern Michigan netted six free throws over the final 4:33 -- two each from Lee, Talley, and Okalekan Ajayi.
Bowling Green had one more field goal for the game, hitting 25-of-47 (53.2%). The Falcons were good on 24-of-61 (39.3%). However, Eastern Michigan had the overall advantage in points from distance (EMU 9-of-22, BGSU 6-of-13) and free throws (EMU 16-of-21, BGSU 11-of-13).
Eastern had a 35-27 advantage in rebounds, with 18 coming on the offensive glass. Bowling Green committed 15 turnovers to seven for EMU. That led to a 23-11 Eagles advantage in points of turnovers.