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Posted on Sat, Mar 5, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

Brandon Bowdry scores 27, EMU men's basketball closes regular season with 69-50 win over Toledo

By Bison Collins Messink

In a battle of two teams at the bottom of the Mid-American Conference standings, the Eastern Michigan men’s basketball team finished a disappointing regular season on a positive note, beating Toledo, 69-50, on Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.

The last-place Rockets (4-27, 1-15 MAC), down to five healthy scholarship players, don’t represent the toughest test in the conference. But after three straight losses, the win gives the Eagles a much-needed boost of confidence heading into the opening round of the MAC tournament, in which the 11th-seeded Eagles travel to sixth-seeded Akron on Tuesday.

“In the postseason we have an opportunity to right a lot of wrongs,” said EMU coach Charles Ramsey. “That’s why getting a convincing win today, going into the tournament, really helps you.”

Eastern Michigan (9-21, 5-11 MAC) jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead, and led by as many as 18 points in the first half, before Toledo closed the gap to 41-30 at halftime.

Though Eastern Michigan never let the Rockets within striking distance, the Eagles also didn’t put Toledo away for good until the final five minutes of the game.

It was one of the better offensive games Eastern Michigan has played this season. The Eagles tallied 20 assists on 26 field goals, and shot 52 percent (26 of 50) from the field.

“I’m elated with the 20 assists, and our second half defense,” Ramsey said, bemoaning the 50 percent shooting percentage Toledo mustered before halftime. “We needed to do a better job, and we basically cut (that percentage) in half.”

Indeed, Toledo shot 25 percent (6 of 24) in the second half.

Brandon Bowdry led Eastern Michigan with 27 points. Whether he was posting up, driving to the basket or hitting from the perimeter, Bowdry was able to do almost anything he wanted offensively Saturday. He also pulled down 10 rebounds and, in the last regular-season game of his career, set a new career high with six assists.

“I guess it was just my day,” Bowdry said. “I wanted to go out with a bang and I didn’t want to disappoint anybody. I had to do it not only for myself, but for the fans and the people who support and respect me.”

No other Eagle scored in double figures, though Bowdry wasn’t on an island offensively. Jamell Harris and J.R. Sims each scored nine, and Derek Thompson added eight.

“Today feels real good,” Bowdry said. “It’s just a positive ending to a season that wasn’t always too well-off.

“So we’re taking some good momentum into the conference tournament, with all of our heads up and feeling some confidence.”

The matchup with Akron in the first round of the MAC tournament could be a favorable draw for Eastern Michigan. The two teams always seem to play tough contests, and the Eagles won the only meeting between the teams this season, 60-56 at the Convocation Center.

“They’re a pretty good team, but I believe it was a pretty good draw for us,” Bowdry said. “I think we set up pretty well with those guys.”

It was the final home game for the Eagles’ three seniors, Bowdry, Will Cooper and Jay Higgins. The three were honored before the game, along with Marvin Skipper, who committed to the Eastern Michigan program coming out of Detroit Pershing High School. Prior to his freshman season doctors discovered Skipper had a heart condition, and he never played a game for the Eagles.

Eastern Michigan honored his scholarship, however, and Skipper spent the past four seasons as a team manager. All four Eastern Michigan seniors will graduate.