GAME NOTES: The seventh-seeded Eastern Michigan Eagles take aim at their third postseason victory as they square off with the third-seeded Western Michigan Broncos in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena.
The victor here will advance to the semifinals to tangle with the second- seeded Ohio Bobcats.
After downing Northern Illinois at home in the first round, EMU invaded Quicken Loans Arena to defeat Miami-Ohio, 58-47, on Wednesday night. Derek Thompson tallied 14 points and five assists while Daylen Harrison contributed 11 points and five rebounds. Da'Shonte Riley and Glenn Bryant added 10 points apiece for the Eagles, who showed off their stingy defensive capabilities by holding Miami to just eight made field goals in the opening 20 minutes and 6- of-23 shooting from the floor in the second half.
EMU paced the MAC in scoring defense with only 59.7 ppg allowed during the regular season. It had a record setting performance in its first matchup with NIU as the Huskies shot just 3.2 percent from the floor in the first half and went 8- of-61 (13.1 percent) from the field in the game. They also went 1- of-33 from beyond the arc. Thompson is leading the team offensively regularly, tallying 10.8 points per game on 36.3 percent shooting from the field. Pacing the Eagles in rebounding is junior center Da'Shonte Riley, who is posting 5.8 boards and 2.0 blocks per game.
This will be the 104th meeting between the two teams, with the Broncos holding a slim lead in the all-time series with a 55-48 edge in the rivalry. The Broncos are 4-1 all-time in the MAC Tournament against Eastern Michigan, including a win in the most recent meeting at the tourney. Western Michigan beat the Eagles in the quarterfinal round of the 2008 MAC Tournament, winning 70-61.
The Broncos (19-11, 10-6) won a half-share of the West Division crown despite losing back-to-back games before their 71-68 decision over Central Michigan on Saturday in their regular season finale. Coach Steve Hawkins has seen solid play on both ends of the floor by his Broncos, who are sixth in the conference in scoring (67.0) and third in scoring defense (63.4).
Shayne Whittington notched his 11th double-double of the season in the regular season finale, which is the most by a WMU player in a single season in over 10 years. Freshman Darius Paul (10.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg) had a decent campaign as well and will be an x-factor for the Broncos if they are to make a run towards the Big Dance.
EMU has taken care of business so far. It will need to find some offensive firepower against the Broncos though, as defense alone is not enough to get the job done in the playoffs. WMU's tough interior approach will be enough to push it to the next round as long as none of the Eagles have a career-night.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 63, Eastern Michigan 59
03/14 10:39:19 ET
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