The Golden Grizzlies lost the battle inside Wednesday night and dropped the first of two non-conference games against Eastern Michigan this month.
EMU junior forward James Thompson IV went a perfect 11-for-11 from the field and was joined by teammates Paul Jackson and Elijah Minnie who all scored 24 points in a 95-89 win over Oakland in Ypsilanti.
Foul trouble played a factor all night — Oakland’s Julius Palmer fouled out and each team finished with a pair of players each with four fouls — but the Eagles stayed aggressive, outscoring the visitors 46-34 in the paint.
Oakland’s last lead came with just over 14 minutes to go in the second half, and though Eastern extended the lead to as many as nine points several times, the Golden Grizzlies (5-4) made it close despite failing to complete a comeback. Down by seven, Nick Daniels’ dish to Jalen Hayes that was lost and resulted in a turnover with 43 seconds to go likely sealed the result despite two late baskets by Kendrick Nunn and Chris Palombizio that got Oakland as close as four points in the final 10 seconds.
Nunn, who returned from an ankle injury in Saturday’s win over Western Michigan, shot 7-of-20 for 19 points, including a pair of late 3-pointers. Martez Walker had 23 points, including 7-of-8 free throws, and Jalen Hayes added a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double performance.
Minnie and Thompson IV shared a team-high by pulling down 12 boards each for the Eagles (6-2), who shot 67 percent on two-point attempts compared to Oakland’s 50.
The teams will meet in a rematch at the O’rena on Dec. 22.
Other Horizon League Men’s Basketball Action from Monday:
- East Tennessee State 84, Northern Kentucky 71: A balanced inside effort by the Buccaneers, who were a 12-seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, thwarted NKU’s chances on the road. Sophomore Carson Williams led the way for the Norse (6-3) with 22 points, but NKU struggled from the outside, shooting just 4-of-17. They’ll look to rebound at home against Eastern Kentucky on Sunday.
- Western Michigan 78, Cleveland State 67: The Vikings were unable to take down the preseason favorites in the MAC, who won a battle that included 43 combined turnovers. The Broncos got a 27-point outing off the bench from sophomore Reggie Jones, while Cleveland State freshman Tyree Appleby led the visitors in Kalamazoo with 24 as a reserve. Sunday will see the Vikings (2-6) welcome in Notre Dame (OH) into the Wolstein Center.
- SIU-Edwardsville 82, IUPUI 81: Aaron Brennan’s 3-pointer with 1:12 to go ended up being the final points in a second half that saw the Jaguars (2-5) erase a double-digit deficit but unable to hold off the Cougars at home. SIU-Edwardsville missed two shots and three free throws in the final minute, but grabbed several key rebounds to limit IUPUI’s chance to take the lead in the waning moments. IUPUI senior Brennan tied his career-high of 25 points that he achieved in last month’s one-point defeat to Eastern Illinois.
- Green Bay 59, Eastern Illinois 57: The Phoenix erased an 18-point first-half lead and scored the game’s final eight points to take the win, including the game-winning basket by Sukhjot Bains with 21 seconds left. Bains accounted for 10 of Green Bay’s 27 bench points, and the winners were led by 20 from Khalil Small. The Phoenix (3-4) travel to take on Missouri on Saturday.
- UIC 76, Wisc. Parkside 28: The opposition got a taste of the big time as UIC held the NCAA D-II Rangers to just 26 percent shooting. Dikembe Dixson finished with a team-high 17 points while Tai Odiose scored 11 and anchored the center with a season-high seven blocks for UIC. The Flames (3-5) welcome in nearby Depaul
- Toledo 89, Detroit Mercy 86: Despite a fantastic play by Josh McFolley (below) in the final seconds, the Titans (4-5) were up-ended by an equally sensational buzzer-beater. Tre’Shaun Fletcher’s career-high 16 points included a cross-court, catch-and-shoot guarded 3-pointer that won the game as time expired for the Rockets. Four players reached double figures for UDM, led by 24 from McFolley.
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) December 7, 2017