The No. 18 Emory men’s basketball team opened their regular season with an electrifying 98-80 win on the road against Piedmont College (Ga.) after an exhibition game against the University of North Georgia on Nov. 4.
The Eagles jumped to a commanding 44-32 lead in the first half with 11 points from sophomore forward Matt Davet and nine from senior forward Gebereal Baitey, as the Eagles went on to force 13 first-half turnovers which Emory converted into 17 points. Sophomore guard Matthew Schner compiled an impressive four steals over the first 20 minutes of the game while the Eagles built up their first-half lead.
Early in the second half, the Eagles built up a 54-43 lead before going on a nine-point run sparked by a three-pointer from hot-handed Davet that allowed the Eagles to reestablish a 20-point lead with about 14 minutes left in regulation.
With about nine minutes left on the clock, the Eagles held a comfortable 75-53 lead over the Lions before going on a 12-5 run sparked by Baitey, which created Emory’s largest lead of the game.
Head Coach Jason Zimmerman said that while he was happy with the team’s win, the team needs to work on keeping up the energy.
“I thought we executed fairly well for about 32 to 33 minutes of the game,” Zimmerman said. “We’re looking forward to making it 40 minutes for sure. I don’t think it was necessarily the first 30. There were a couple spells where we kind of lost our focus, but for the most part I thought we sustained our focus throughout the game.”
Regarding the players’ performances, Zimmerman said he was impressed by the team’s versatility.
“We had five guys reach double figures, and they all got there different ways,” Zimmerman said.
Of the Eagles’ high-flying offense, Davet led the team with 25 points, followed by 16 points each from Baitey and sophomore forward Lawrence Rowley. Rowley’s 16 points also marked a career high. Sophomores Nick Stuck and Schner also hit double figures on the night, with each scoring 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Baitey said that his biggest takeaway from the game was the team’s need to develop their defense and stay disciplined.
“The pace we play at will make it very hard for teams to stick with us if we remain disciplined and focused,” Baitey said. “We saw that we can score points, but the different-maker for us this year will be how well we defend other teams. Especially ones that are more skilled than Piedmont.”
The Eagles will see action on the road again on Nov. 16 when they face off against the College of Staten Island (N.Y.) in the Roanoke College (Va.) Tournament.