Eagles Take Down Phoenix, 67-58

Updated 12/10/2013
Story courtesy of EMU Sports Information
Eastern Michigan 67, Green Bay 58

YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) – The Eastern Michigan University men's basketball game closed out the home portion of the 2013 calendar year with a 67-58 victory over the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix Tuesday night, Dec. 10, at the Convocation Center. With the victory over the No. 12-ranked mid-major program in the country according to the current CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll, the Eagles snapped a three-game losing skid to win for the first time since Nov. 23 when they knocked off the University of Texas Arlington, 74-69.
Coming into the contest shooting just 63.6 percent from the free-throw line, the Eagles (6-3) iced the game away, making 28-of-39 attempts throughout the night. Eastern shot 43.9 percent from the field (18-for-41), including 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. The EMU defense was strong all night long, holding the Phoenix (5-3) to just 35.3 shooting from the floor and forcing 18 turnovers.
Four Eagles reached double-digits in scoring led by Raven Lee (Detroit, Mich.-Romulus). The redshirt-freshman scored 17 points, making seven of his eight foul shots. Karrington Ward (Lockport, Ill.-Lockport Township (Moraine Valley C.C.)) added 13 points and seven rebounds to continue the strong start to his EMU career. Mike Talley (Detroit, Mich.-Melvindale ABT (Duquesne)) recorded 11 points, going 8-of-10 form the charity stripe, while dishing out four assists without coughing up a turnover. Da'Shonte Riley (Detroit, Mich.-Detroit Country Day (Syracuse)) packed the stat line with 11 points, eight boards, three blocks and an assist before fouling out with 14 seconds left in the game.
Green Bay out-rebounded Eastern, 37-29, led by 7-foot 1-inch center Alec Brown who grabbed 10 caroms and 19 points for a double-double. Keifer Sykes also chipped in with 13 points for the Phoenix, who made the same amount of shots as EMU, but missed an additional 10 attempts. Coming into the game averaging 76 points per game, Green Bay only managed a season-low 58 points against Eastern's tough 2-3 zone.
The Green and White struggled at the start, making just one of its first five shots to trail the Phoenix, 7-4, early.  However, the Eagles would take the lead after a Ward hit a baseline jumper, and Riley provided an offensive put-back. The lead exchanged hands following a Green Bay basket, but the junior college transfer would nail a corner three to put the Eagles ahead. EMU would increase the margin to six as a result of an 11-2 run, leading 15-9 with 10:42 remaining in the opening stanza.
The tight 2-3 zone of Head Coach Rob Murphy caused problems for the Green Bay offense, forcing 5-of-15 shooting as well as eight turnovers in the first 15 minutes. A Ward steal would lead to a fastbreak layup by Daylen Harrison (Akron, Ohio-St. Vincent-St. Mary (Wyoming)) to increase the lead to double digits, 23-13, and force a Phoenix timeout with 5:26 left in the first half.
After going over six minutes without scoring, an offensive put-back cut the Eastern lead to a dozen, 27-15, but the Eagles would maintain a double-digit advantage heading into halftime, 29-18.
The EMU defense forced 12 Green Bay turnovers in the first 20 minutes as the Phoenix shot 6-of-21 from the field for a 28.6 clip. Brown paced the visiting team in the opening half, scoring five points and grabbing seven boards to give his team the rebound advantage, 20-13.
Ward and Lee scored nine and eight points, respectively, as Eastern's first half scoring leaders. The Green and White converted 10-of-24 shots for a field goal percentage of 41.7. While the Eagles have struggled from the charity stripe at times this season, they made 8-of-11 attempts through the first 20 minutes of the contest.
After scoring just three points in the opening half, Riley got off to a hot start in the second frame, scoring five of EMU's first eight points, increasing the margin to 15, 37-22. The Eagles continued to be aggressive on the offensive end of the floor, causing Green Bay to commit eight fouls in the first eight minutes of the second half.
After trading buckets, the Phoenix cut the Eastern lead in half after back-to-back threes to make it, 41-35. However, Talley responded with a three of his own to push the margin back to nine. Following a defensive stop, Glenn Bryant (Detroit, Mich.-Oak Hill Academy (Arkansas)) converted one-of-two at the line as the advantage raised back to double-digits. Another failed possession for Green Bay combined with a jumper from Lee brought the EMU lead back to a dozen, 47-35, with 7:38 remaining in the game.
Green Bay made a mini run to get back within seven with two minutes left. Nonetheless, Riley answered with an old-fashioned three point play on the other side of the floor. The Phoenix would not give up, hitting a long range three before calling timeout, trailing 56-49 with 1:30 to go in the contest. Eastern converted enough free throws down the stretch to hang on for the 67-58 victory.
The Eagles will take a break to focus on the end of the semester before returning to the floor Saturday, Dec. 21, to face Oakland University. Tip-off with the Golden Grizzlies at Activities Center O'rena in Rochester, Mich. is scheduled for 1 p.m.