Eastern Michigan came out firing on all cylinders, taking an early lead and holding an advantage throughout the game.
For the second consecutive game, EMU posted a pair of double-doubles. Freshman James Thompson IV notched his . . .
Two other Eagles also posted double-digit scoring efforts, with junior Ty Toney and sophomore Tim Bond chipping in 11 and 10, respectively. All 10 of Bond's points came in the second half.
Both the EMU offense and defense were strong throughout the game, as the defense held the Chippewas to a 23-of-63 (36.5 percent) shooting performance. Additionally, Central only managed to convert 5-of-25 (20 percent) shots from downtown, and was out-rebounded by the Eagles, 40-27. EMU converted a high percentage of shots, finishing 25-of-51 (49 percent), while also winning the second chance battle, as well, with a 20-11 advantage.
Chris Fowler paced Central Michigan scoring with 16 points. Braylon Rayson nearly reached double figures with nine, but that came off 4 –of-14 from the floor.
Thompson began the game with a nice hook shot, before a transition layup from Toney gave the Eagles an early 4-0 lead. A thunderous dunk from Thompson increased the lead to 6-0, as the EMU defense held the Chips in check. Coming out of the media timeout, a steal from Bond led to a layup from junior Willie Mangum on the other end, giving EMU a 10-2 lead.
A three from Nazione put the Eagles ahead by double digits, before a jumper from the Chips brought the lead back down to single digits. A quick run from Central brought the lead down to three, 13-10, with 11:38 remaining in the half. Both offenses cooled down a bit, as the score stood at 17-14, with 8:50 remaining in the opening frame.
A three from redshirt junior Jodan Price gave the Eagles a bit of a cushion, taking the 20-14 lead into a media timeout at 7:33. Thompson continued thriving on the offensive end, with another hook shot and a pair of free throws to give him 10 with 4:45 remaining in the first half.
A three from redshirt junior Raven Lee put the Eagles back ahead by double digits, and a layup from Thompson opened up a huge 31-18 lead with 3:38 remaining in the half. The defense continued giving Central problems, as the Chips were 8-of-26 from the floor and 0-of-8 from downtown at that point.
Approaching halftime, the Eagles' offensive rhythm continued as the team opened a 38-23 lead heading into the locker rooms. A primary reason for the big halftime lead was the Eagles winning the rebounding battle, as EMU had 20 in contrast to Central's nine.
Out of the break, the Eagle offense continued rolling, still maintaining a double-digit lead with 16:30 left to play. Central kept chipping away and trailed 44-32 at the 15:17 media timeout.
A two from the Chips brought the lead down to single-digits once again, but the free throws from Nazione put the lead back at 11. Thompson continued controlling the boards, as he nabbed his 15th double-double of the season with 11:31 left in the game.
Heading into the final 10 minutes of the game, EMU still held a lead, but the Chips would not go away. Nazione picked up a double-double of his own, notching 13 points and 10 rebound with seven minutes left to play. Timely offensive rebounds from Thompson kept the Eagle offense rolling, as the double-digit lead returned, 54-44, with 6:34 remaining.
Heading into the final five minutes, the Eagles needed to close out the game strong in order to secure the win. A nice pass from Bond led to a three from Lee, putting the lead back at 10, 57-47, with 3:29 remaining. From there, the teams continued trading baskets, with EMU maintaining a double-digit lead through the final horn.
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