DeKALB, Ill. (EMUEagles.com/MRO Edit) – Eastern Michigan came through with its first road win of the 2015 Mid-American Conference season Saturday when the Eagles (17-10, 6-8 MAC) knocked off Northern Illinois at the NIU Convocation Center, 73-65. The Huskies (14-11, 4-10 MAC) absorbed their fifth home loss of the MAC campaign, and fell to 9-2 since head coach Rob Murphy took over the EMU program prior to the 2011-12 campaign.
Mike Talley posted a career-best 25 points to lead the Green and White's offense, going 6-of-12 from the floor while knocking down 10 free throws in 14 attempts. The redshirt-senior point guard dished out five assists in the victory. Karrington Ward was just one rebound shy of his fourth-straight double-double, going for 21 points and nine rebounds. The Lockport, Ill. native blocked a pair of shots and added a pair of steals to the stat sheet.
As a team, Eastern Michigan shot 42.6 percent from the floor, while hitting 31.6 percent of its three-point attempts. The Eagles converted 67.5 percent of their free throw attempts.
Anthony Jonhson tallied a career-high of 23 points for Northern Illinois, knocking down seven field goals, including five from downtown. Aaric Armstead led the Huskies in rebounding, grabbing 10. NIU struggled from the charity stripe, connecting on 62.9 percent of its opportunities. The Huskies used a 52.2 percent shooting performance in the second half to roar back into the game, but Eastern held off NIU down the stretch.
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Eastern continued its strong offensive play after a quick 5-0 run from the Huskies. Owning a four-point, 22-18, lead at the 7:40 mark, Eastern scored the next 11 points, to forge a 15-point lead with 5:43 to go. Over the final 10 minutes of play, the Eagles held NIU to just one field goal on seven attempts while outscoring the Huskies by 11 to take a 16-point, 40-26, lead heading into the locker room at the half.
The Eagles were hot on both ends of the floor as Eastern shot 50 percent from the floor while holding the Huskies to just 24 points in the first 20 minutes of play. Talley led the way, hitting on five of his eight field goal attempts, including going 3-of-6 from downtown.
Ward had 12 points in the first half, going 4-of-8 from the floor. EMU held the Huskies to a 37.5 percent field goal percentage, along with an identical percentage from downtown. Eastern blocked four shots while forcing NIU into 12 first half turnovers to go along with five steals for Eastern Michigan.
The Eagles struggled out of the gate offensively in the second half, missing their first three attempts, before Mike Samuels converted on a second-chance layup with 17:34 on the clock. NIU's Travon Baker hit a three on the next trip down the floor, sparking an 8-0 run to cut the halftime deficit in half, 42-34, with 14:42 on the clock.
Eastern was able to balloon the lead back to 12, but another run from NIU brought the Huskies within five. The two squads traded buckets until Johnson connected on another three-pointer while being fouled on the play. The Purdue University transfer converted on the free throw to bring NIU within four, 52-48, at the 7:42 mark.
The two squads continued to play back-and-forth ball until the Eagles scored four-straight to get back on top by eight, 64-56, at the 1:38 mark before using free throws to ice the game down the stretch.
Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET)
Northern Illinois at Toledo (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET)