Eastern Michigan’s defense had a record breaking performance Saturday, as they cruised to 42-25 victory over Northern Illinois.
The Eagles’ held NIU to four points in the first half on 1-of-31 shooting, good for a NCAA record low of 3.2 percent. The four- points scored in the first-half tied Savannah State(2008) for the lowest first half scoring output in modern college basketball history. The one NIU field goal made also tied the NCAA record with Savannah State for field goals made in one half.
The EMU defense forced the Huskies to take more shots from the three-point line than shots inside. The Green and White kept the Huskies shooters cold all night, as they finished 1-33 from beyond the arc. NIU shot 13.1 percent from the field, which is lowest shooting percentage in NCAA history of the shot clock era dating back to 1986.
“Always good to protect your home court, and always good to get another MAC win” Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy said. “Down in Western (Michigan)we had control to win that game, we fought to the end but we couldn’t get it. Knowing that we had the size against NIU we didn’t let them take any open shots and we kept them off the glass and we imposed our size on them defensively.”
In the second half Northern Illinois was able to get into a scoring rhythm with 21 points but EMU’s lead was too great as they cruised to a easy home victory. Junior center Da’Shonte Riley was the defensive force in the game with five blocked shots four rebounds as the key part of their elite 2-3 zone. Junior forward Glenn Bryant continues to come into his own as a leader on the team with game-high 10 points and three blocks.
“He has become more and more comfortable as the year has gone on.” Murphy said on Bryant. “He works hard each and every day and he is a really high energy player but I think for him he has become a good defensive player. He can get deflections and blocks and turn it into offense, I don’t think he gets nearly as many touches as he should because of his mismatch advantage but once we got up but 18 points I just wanted to work the ball.”
EMU (10-10, 3-3 MAC) will have to improve on offense if they are to improve in close matchups. They are currently winless on the road and travel to MAC opponents Ohio and Kent State this week.
“We need to just stay confident and just keeping playing and we will breakthrough.” Murphy said. “There wouldn’t be a better time to break through than against Ohio this Wednesday, they are at the top of the MAC and a sweet sixteen team. We beat them last year in our building and I’m sure they remember that and they got a tough place to play and I’m actually excited to play them.”