Bates Paces Eagles to Comeback Win Over CMU, 62-56

Postgame Press Conference

YPSILANTI, Mich. ( — The Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team, behind a double-double effort from Emoni Bates (Ypsilanti, Mich.-Ypsi Prep-Memphis), overcame a slow start and 14-point deficit to claim a 62-56 victory over the Chippewas of Central Michigan University Saturday, Jan. 7, inside the George Gervin Game Above Center. Bates scored 26 points and added 10 rebounds to help the Eagles (4-11, 1-1 MAC) avoid an 0-2 start to the conference slate while handing the Chippewas (6-9, 1-1 MAC) their first conference loss. of the year.

Bates, who recorded his first career double-double at home against the University of California – San Diego, Nov. 27, scored over 20 points for the sixth time this year to help spark the comeback. Tyson Acuff (Detroit, Mich.-Cass Technical-Duquesne) also added seven points and three steals while Noah Farrakhan (Hillside, NJ-The Patrick School-East Carolina) helped out with eight points.

Led by Javantae Randle’s (Detroit, Mich. – Frederick Douglass) three offensive rebounds, Eastern Michigan crashed the offensive glass, pulling down 12 boards that resulted in 17 second-chance points. The Eastern Michigan defense held Central Michigan shooters to only 37.3 percent from the field, including 27.8 percent from three-point range.

How It Happened
The Eagles struggled out of the gate, falling behind, 30-18, heading into halftime. The Chippewas out-rebounded the Eagles, 28-12, in the opening half to help build their lead.

Central Michigan kept widening its lead after intermission, building a 32-18 advantage before the Green and White went on an 8-0 run, finished off by Legend Geeter’s (River Rouge, Mich.-River Rouge-Providence) layup, to shrink the deficit to 32-26 with 16:47 to go in the contest. With 5:45 left to go in the game, Bates tied it up at 50 for the Eagles with a three. Eastern Michigan kept the rally going and took their first lead (54-52) since 18:54 remained in the first half off a lay-up from the Ypsilanti native following a steal and assist from Acuff. EMU took the lead for good on a Bates free throw with 2:06 left for a 62-56 comeback victory. Eastern Michigan capitalized on 11 Chippewas turnovers in the period, collecting 13 points off those turnovers.

Game Notes
» Emoni Bates led the charge for the Eagles once again as the sophomore collected a game-high 26 points and 10 rebounds to post his second career double-double. Bates, who recorded his first career double-double, Nov. 27, at home against UC San Diego with 17 points and 13 rebounds, finished the game with CMU with 10-of-20 shooting, including 2-of-9 from three. He also added three steals and two blocks.
» Bates, who entered the game with a league-best 20.3 points per game average, reached double figures in the scoring column for the 13th time in the 14 games he has played this season while scoring at least 15 for the 12th time. He also reached the 20-point marker for the sixth time this year.
» Bates’ double-double is the third of the season for the Eagles. Legend Geeter was the first to record one this year when he tallied 12 points and 10 boards against Winthrop, Nov. 23, at the Cancun Challenge.
» Tyson Acuff hit a three-point shot with 12:58 remaining in the first half to extend the Eagles’ current streak to 566 games in a row with at least one made triple. The last time Eastern failed to connect on a long-distance shot was Jan. 24, 2004, after going 0-of-7 against Miami. Eastern finished the game 3-of-22 from deep.
» Javantae Randle made his first collegiate start today after seeing action off the bench in 12 previous appearances this year. The redshirt freshman finished the game with four points on 1-of-2 shooting from the floor and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. He also added four rebounds and one block.
» Jalin Billingsley recorded a team-best four steals in the game, doubling his career high. Twice this year, he tallied two thefts, with the most recent occurrence coming Nov. 27, against UC San Diego. That also was the fifth time he recorded two in a game dating back to last season when he played for Georgetown.
» As a team, the Eagles recorded 15 steals in the game, the most on the season, surpassing the 12 thefts tallied against Detroit Mercy, Dec. 18. The last time Eastern recorded more steals in a game was Dec. 28, 2022, when it stole the ball 22 times from Olivet.
» Eastern was held to just 18 points in the first half, the lowest total this season behind the 21 scored on the road at Bradley University, Nov. 15. The last time the Eagles were held under 20 points in the opening stanza came at home last year, Jan. 18, 2022, when EMU trailed Kent State University, 26-17.
» Despite scoring just 18 points in the first half, the Eagles were able to secure the win. The last time the Eagles accomplished the feat was Jan. 14, 2017, when Eastern was held to 19 first-half points before winning, 53-49, on the road at Ohio.
» The 14-point deficit the Eagles erased on their way to victory is the largest of the season, surpassing the 12-point deficit Eastern overcame in its 80-68 road victory at Florida International, Nov. 30.
» The Chippewas pulled down 28 rebounds in the first half of the game, tying for the fifth-most rebounds in a single half of play inside the George Gervin Game Above Center (since 1998-99).

Historical Notes
» The victory over the Chippewas stands as the 675th for the Eagles as a member of NCAA Division I. Eastern made the move to the largest national division ahead of the 1974-75 season.
» With the victory, the Eagles improved to 101-104 in the series and have won three in a row. The three-game winning streak is the longest for the Eagles in the series since they rattled off six in a row during the 20015-16 and 2017-18 seasons.
» The Eagles improved to 60-45 when playing host to the Chippewas and have won two home games in a row in the series. Eastern has won back-to-back home games in the series for the first time since winning 85-63, Jan. 3, 2017, and 79-74, Jan. 9, 2018.
» The game today marks the lone regular-season meeting on the schedule between EMU and CMU this year. The last time the two rivals met just once in the regular season was the 1977-78 season with the Chippewas winning, 79-67, Feb. 4, 1978, in Ypsilanti.
» With the win, Stan Heath remains undefeated against Central Michigan as the head coach of the Eagles, holding a 3-0 record. Overall, he is 5-1 in his career against the Chippewas.

Up Next
Eastern is back in action Tuesday, Jan. 10, when it ventures to Kalamazoo, Mich., to face intrastate rival Western Michigan University in a 7 pm tip inside McGuirk Arena. The game between the rivals will be streamed live on ESPN+ and WEMU (89.1 FM).

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