Record-Courier staff report
YPSILANTI, Mich. -- In its first postseason contest in 16 years, the Eastern Michigan University men's basketball team came out victorious over the Norfolk State University Spartans, 58-54, in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament on Tuesday at the Convocation Center.
The win marks the first postseason victory for the EMU program since the 1995-96 campaign as well as the most wins for the Eagles (22-14) in a season since they totaled 22 wins in 1996-97.
With the victory, the Eagles advance to the second round of the CIT, playing a team yet to be determined. The site and date of the game will also be announced at a later date following the complete conclusion of the opening round.
EMU drained 19-of-46 (41.3 percent) from the field as well as 7-of-17 (41.2 percent) from 3-point land. Mike Talley had a team-high 14 points, including 11 in the first half. Raven Lee added 12 on 5-of-11 shooting.
The Eagles shot 13-of-19 (68.4 percent) from the free throw line, making just enough down the stretch to secure the four-point win. On the opposite side of the floor, the nation's No. 1 field goal percentage defense forced 17 turnovers that led to 18 points.
Malcolm Hawkins notched a game-high 16 points in the loss for the Spartans (19-15) while teammate Brandon Goode followed with a dozen. RaShid Gaston grabbed a team-high 12 boards to go along with eight points.
NSU etched a 41.7 shooting percentage behind a 20-of-48 performance from the floor. The Spartans made the same amount of 3s as the Eagles, while shooting one more than the Green and White for a 7-of-18 (38.9 percent) showing.
The game was back-and-forth for most of the first half with both teams taking shots from long range. A Talley 3-ball broke the tie, but a late bucket by the Spartans cut the EMU lead to one, 31-30, going into the locker room.
Talley led Eastern Michigan in the first half with 11 points.
Hawkins also scored 11 in the first half for Norfolk State.
The margin remained close in the second half before EMU recorded six of the contest's next seven points to build a seven-point lead, 56-49.
However, the Eagles went cold from the floor for three minutes as the Spartans brought it back to a one possession game, 56-53, with just 1:23 left.
Talley missed a rare free throw on the front end of a one-and-one, and Olalekan Ajayi missed a pair as well.
On the other side of the floor, the Spartans split a pair at the line to cut the lead to two with 27 seconds remaining.
With NSU still forced to foul, Talley made 1-of-2 in the double bonus before a Spartan 3 bounced off the back iron as Ward corralled the rebound with three seconds to go.
Ward then put the game away with one free throw to put the contest on ice and give EMU the 58-54 victory.