In the final two matchups of a five-game homestand, the men’s basketball team split against two University Athletic Association (UAA) opponents, losing on Friday night to Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) before rebounding to defeat Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) on Sunday afternoon. After the 1-1 weekend, the Eagles now have a record of 10-4, with a 2-1 record in the tough UAA.
Winners of eight of their last nine, the Eagles entered Friday’s home game confident as they matched up with the 7-5 Carnegie Mellon Tartans, who entered the game 0-1 in the UAA. In a closely contested first half, the Eagles and Tartans each used a series of small runs before finishing the half with Emory up 35-34. The Tartans opened up the second half on a 10-3 run, but the Eagles quickly responded with an 8-0 run that put Emory up 51-48. The last lead Emory held was 73-72, before the Tartans pulled away and controlled the rest of the game. Senior forward Jake Davis finished with 30 points, while four other Eagles finished in double figures for the evening. Leading the Tartans’ effort was senior Christian Manoli who finished with a game-high 32 points, with 19 points coming in the second half. Emory was held to 40 percent shooting on the night, while being outrebounded 49-30. Emory did force 16 turnovers and scored 12 fast break points in the loss.
“We were on our heels from the start, which is what we usually do to our opponents,” Head Coach Jason Zimmerman said. “I just thought that our energy was our lowest in a game in a long time.”
Senior forward McPherson Moore agreed. “We did not execute well against Carnegie on Friday night,” he said. Moore also credited the Tartans, saying, “they played a very good game.”
Looking to bounce back from Friday’s loss, the Eagles returned to action on Sunday afternoon, matching up with the 9-4 Case Western Spartans, who entered the game 1-1 in UAA play. Emory played very well at both ends of the court against Case Western, and controlled from the start en route to a convincing 102-76 victory.
Leading 58-46 at the half, Emory put Case Western away behind multiple runs that eventually pushed their lead to 83-61 with only eight minutes remaining in the game. Led by Moore’s career-high 31 points on 12-18 from the floor, including seven three-pointers, and Davis’ 27 points on 10-15 from the field, Emory’s offense proved too much for the Tartans to handle. In addition, junior Mike Florin, who, according to Coach Zimmerman, “sets the tone on offense and on defense,” finished with season-high tying 10 assists to go along with zero turnovers.
Sophomore Alex Foster also had a season-high in points, finishing with 16. The Eagles shot a season-high 54.3 percent from the field and 57.7 percent from deep, while capitalizing on 18 turnovers by the Tartans. The team’s 15 three pointers tied the third highest mark in school history for a single game.
Zimmerman was pleased with his team’s play on Sunday, “Making shots led to great energy today, and we played with a much better energy than on Friday,” he said. We were just much more locked in and focused on each possession.”
Zimmerman credited Florin for his outstanding play on Sunday. “When you have a guy on your team go for 10 assists and no turnovers, that’s superb, and it’s exactly what we need from him,” Zimmerman said. [Florin] is the leader of the team because he has the ball in his hands a lot. He did a great job setting the tone today.”
Zimmerman also praised Moore and Davis for their outstanding shooting, saying, “They are just really solid in what they can give us scoring-wise.”
Moore called the effort a “bounce-back” game, as the Eagles improved to 2-1 in UAA play.
Looking ahead, both Moore and Zimmerman said that the team has room to improve despite winning nine of the their last 11 games.
“As a team, we are working to improve our defense as our success in the UAA is contingent upon us sticking to our defensive principles,” Moore wrote in an email to the Wheel.
The Eagles continue UAA conference play this week as they go on the road to face New York University on Friday Jan. 24.
–By Ethan Morris
Photo by Emory Athletics