EMU 65, Buffalo 46
This evening I took a break from football signing day and headed to the Convocation Center, to watch the EMU men’s basketball team renew their rivalry (by blogger fiat) with with Buffalo Bulls. (Ontario Sandwich Trophy!)
In a sign of things to come, Glenn Bryant scored the first points of the game — typical of EMU games, it took nearly two minutes for this to happen. Buffalo answered well early on, quickly pushing to a 9-4 lead, with Javon McCrea dominating in the paint. EMU adjusted well, however, and that was the largest lead Buffalo would hold. As is so often the case — as is Rob Murphy’s intention — defensive intensity fueled EMU’s offensive opportunities. By the end of the game, the Eagles had outscored the Bulls 23-5 in points off turnovers and 8-0 in fast-break points.
With the Eagles hanging on to a 37-33 halftime lead, Murphy made some shrewd defensive adjustments, most notably pulling the bigs back closer to the basket to close down Buffalo’s inside game. Result: 13 second-half points allowed. I know, it’s not as impressive as the 4 first-half points EMU allowed a week-and-a-half ago, but it’s still pretty impressive, and maybe this time the Eagles can get some credit for the defensive effort.
“If you’re not playing defense, you’re not playing.” — Rob Murphy
The defense fuels the offense, and that was no more true tonight than of Glenn Bryant. Bryant was a beast on defense — four blocked shots is enough to demonstrate that — and seemed unstoppable on offense. The highlight of the game probably came midway through the second half when Bryant came soaring over what seemed like the entire Buffalo team for a spectacular one-handed dunk on an assist by Strickland. Moments later, defense again fueled offense, as Bryant stole the ball near the three-point line and took it all they way down the court for a layup.
If Bryant’s impressive stat-line — 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 blocks — obviously merits the game ball, honorable mention has to go to Austin Harper. Harper was not bad, but fairly unimpressive in the first half, but he came alive in the second half, scoring 8 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 12 minutes, for 10 points in the game.