The Eagles competed in their second road invitational this past weekend, losing their first game Friday to LaGrange College (Ga.) 84-95 before a better showing Sunday in a 71-62 win over Maryville College (Tenn.). The two games, played at Oglethorpe University (Ga.), brought the Eagles’ record to 3-2 on the season.
After a strong performance in North Carolina last weekend, hopes were high that the Eagles would continue winning. However, the LaGrange Panthers had their own say in the matter, streaking their way to 95 points and holding off the Eagles’ attack to snag the win.
A significant portion of the Panthers’ offense came from the duo of sophomore forward Elijah Adedoyin and senior guard Justyn Olson, who combined for 41 points. Adedoyin was lethal from behind the arc, hitting six threes in the game, five coming in the first half. Olson’s game was quiet yet effective, his stat line highlighted by a perfect 9-9 performance at the charity stripe.
“We prepared well in practice with personnel and the scouting report, but when it came to the game, we weren’t locked in,” junior forward Christopher Avant said.
Head Coach Jason Zimmerman agreed with Avant’s analysis of the team’s performance, citing the players’ failure to produce in the game against LaGrange College
“We missed some assignments and our execution of details wasn’t very good,” Zimmerman said. “We didn’t execute the game plan. We can’t give up 95 points.”
Aided by Adedoyin’s sharpshooting, the Panthers charged out to a 45-36 halftime lead and never looked back. The Eagles played with a balanced attack led by junior forward Adam Gigax’s 20 points but failed to slow the Panthers’ offense down the stretch. The Eagles managed to cut the deficit down to seven points with six minutes remaining, but would not get any closer than that as Olson quickly drained two free throws to push the Panthers’ lead back to nine and maintain a safe distance through the 95-84 finish.
The difference Sunday came in the Eagles’ defensive effort. Emory held the Maryville College Scots to only 62 points on 26 percent shooting from the field.
“Our focus was better and our attention to detail was better,” Zimmerman said. “In the Maryville game, we defended longer stretches like we needed to. We put back-to-back stops together [against Maryville] a lot better than we did [against LaGrange].”
For the Eagles, another afternoon of balanced scoring coupled with a tighter focus on defensive assignments propelled Emory to the 71-62 victory. Four Emory players scored in double figures, including Avant, who finished the game with a double-double on 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Zimmerman contributed the success against Maryville to the team’s cooperation.
“The ball doesn’t stick very often to a certain guy,” Zimmerman said. “We have talented offensive players, so when they get in a rhythm and get comfortable, different guys on different nights can score.”
The Eagles’ ability to spread the ball around helped relieve the pressure to score off any one individual.
“We have a lot of guys [who] can score the ball, so if one guy isn’t having a good game, another guy can step up offensively,” Avant said.
The Eagles will finish their seven-game road stretch at the end of this week. The players understand that these challenging games will help prepare them for tougher opponents down the road.
“It’s tough to find your identity on the road,” Avant explained. “But in the long run, these away games will prepare us better for the conference season.”
The Eagles will continue on the road Wednesday at Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) and will close out the stretch at Piedmont College (Ga.) Saturday.