Eastern Michigan pulls out an ugly win over Central Michigan, 41-38
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
Eastern Michigan University has developed a new case study for an ugly basketball win.
Despite a season-low six points from leading scorer Brandon Bowdry—and a plethora of other deficient statistics—the Eagles held on for a 41-38 win over Central Michigan at the Convocation Center on Sunday afternoon.
“Dr. Naithsmith is probably rolling in his grave, because we set that game back to peach basket days,” Eagles coach Charles E. Ramsey said. “It was something to look at.”
It was fitting that the Chippewas’ Trey Ziegler missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer, considering the teams combined to miss 74 shots. There were more rebounds (82) than points (79) in the game.
Central Michigan coach Ernie Zeigler said, without much hyperbole, that his team turned in “probably the worst offensive display in Division I history.”
Eastern Michigan led 21-13 at halftime after the Chippewas made 4 of 30 shots in the first half. The offensive numbers improved in the second half, mostly because they really couldn’t get much worse, but Central Michigan (5-13, 2-3) still shot just 23 percent (14 of 60) overall.
The Chippewas’ 38 points were the fewest allowed by an Eastern Michigan (5-12, 2-3) team in the Convocation Center.
Eastern Michigan, which made 14 of 42 shots on the way to its lowest offensive output of the season, built a 15-point second half lead before Central Michigan gradually whittled it down, and closed to within a point with 30 seconds left in the game.
But Darrell Lampley hit two big free throws for the Eagles and Zeigler missed his contested 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Eagles held on.
Zeigler, the son of Central Michigan’s coach, was averaging 17.6 points, second to Kentucky’s Terrance Jones among the nation’s highest-scoring freshmen. The Eagles held him to 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting.
“We wanted to see how Trey would function under pressure,” said Ramsey. “We said, ‘Let’s make other people beat us.’”
Earlier in the season, another blue-chip freshman, Ray McCallum Jr., who also stayed at home to play for his father at Detroit Mercy, came to the Convocation Center and torched the Eagles for 31 points as the Titans won in overtime.
But with Zeigler struggling Sunday, the Chippewas (5-13, 2-3 MAC)—who at times put four freshmen on the court at once—couldn’t muster enough offense.
Derek Thompson, who has emerged as a secondary scoring threat for Eastern, gave the Eagles a spark with nine first-half points. Thompson and Lampley each finished with 11.
Bowdry, meanwhile, was scoreless for the first 30 minutes of the game as he battled foul trouble and Central Michigan’s Andre Coimbra, who bumped, grabbed and otherwise harassed Bowdry all game, until finally fouling out.
While he finished 15 points below his scoring average, the six points Bowdry did score came at important moments as the clock wound down.
And whereas Central Michigan’s early shooting woes were mostly the result of clanking on good opportunities, the Eastern Michigan defense made things difficult for Central Michigan late.
“You have to do the little things when the game is in the balance, and today we did those things,” Ramsey said. “We didn’t go haywire; we kept our composure.”
Despite some of the ugly statistics that the game produced, the Eagles aren’t willing to turn their noses up at any victory—and finding a way to win when Bowdry had a quiet game was a big step.
“With Brandon not playing one of his better games, the other guys really stepped up,” Ramsey said. “We got stops, and to do that in a conference game—I’ll take that defensive effort.”