Three takeaways from Oakland’s road victory over Eastern Michigan in a non-conference game between two state of Michigan schools.
3. Oakland took a double-digit early but allowed Eastern to close the gap at the half.
The Golden Grizzlies had an 11-point lead in the first half and their 1-3-1 zone was effective for the beginning and mid-way point of the first half forcing the Eagles to settle for three-point attempts. However, with around six minutes left in the half, Yusif Jihad made a three to lead an Eastern Michigan surge and cut into Oakland’s lead.
Tyson Acuff made a three right before the half to cut the lead to three with the Golden Grizzlies only having a 34-31 lead going into halftime. The stats for the first half were pretty even with both teams shooting just over 40% from the field. Neither team had an edge in important categories going into the half, as EMU had 15 rebounds and OU had 16 for example.
The Eagles made the necessary adjustments against the Golden Grizzlies’ 1-3-1 zone in the latter part of the first half to allow them to go into halftime with only being down three points.
2. To start the second half, Oakland went to their bigs to get some quality looks and baskets to increase their lead.
Trey Townsend made a layup and Chris Conway made two baskets inside to begin the second half. Townsend also made a layup, was fouled, and made the free throw for an and-one to increase Oakland’s lead to nine with approximately 15 minutes remaining in the game. Townsend then made his third layup of the half to give the Golden Grizzlies a 48-39 lead.
Townsend didn’t stop there, when he went up for another layup he was fouled and made one of his two free throw attempts to give Oakland a 10-point lead. Conway then made a layup to give the Golden Grizzlies a 51-39 lead. Tuburu Naivalurua made a layup to give OU a 14-point lead near the midway point of the second half. Lastly, with just under nine minutes remaining in the game, Townsend threw down a two-hand dunk to give the Golden Grizzlies a 62-44 lead.
1. Oakland’s defense and ability to run their half-court offense efficiently in the second half was the difference in the game.
After a strong finish at the end of the first half, EMU’s offense sputtered for the most part in the second half. This was primarily due to OU making adjustments at halftime and making timely substitutions to force the Eagles to take low-percentage shots and not allowing the EMU to get the ball into the post to their big men.
The Golden Grizzlies did a much better job rebounding the ball in the second half as well as creating turnovers that led to fast break points. The Eagles begin to score more towards the final minutes of the game but the OU defense stopped any type of comeback by EMU.
The Horizon League team was also able to run set plays for their bigs and was also able to have their guards drive to the basket for some timely baskets.
Oakland with the win improves to 6-5 and Eastern Michigan with the loss drops to 5-4. The Golden Grizzlies’ next play at Michigan State, is ten days from tonight, with the Eagles traveling a short distance to play at Michigan on Dec. 16.