This past season for the Eastern’s men’s basketball team was the best in the program’s history so far. The Eagles compiled a record of 21-6 throughout the season and made the championship of the MAC commonwealth tournament. They lost a heartbreaking championship game by four points to Hood College, whom they had beaten both times in the regular season.
This season was particularly special because it was the first time in Eastern’s history that the men’s basketball team made the NCAA tournament. In the first round they found themselves up against the University of Rochester Yellowjackets.
The Eagles started strongly and played a good first half. The Eagles were shooting well at just over 60 percent and were protecting the ball, with few turnovers. The Yellowjackets were shooting even better at nearly 75 percent at one point in the first half. This helped them to build a substantial lead that the Eagles had to chip away at for the rest of the half. After ending the first half on a solid run, the Eagles turned an 18 point deficit into only six heading into the locker room down 44-50.
The second half unfortunately was a drop off from the level in the first for the Eagles. They shot at just over 22 percent from the floor and turned the ball over more in the second half. While the Eagles dropped off, the Yellowjackets still shot at over 50 percent and made twice as many free throws as the Eagles. The score stayed fairly close at the beginning of the second half but the Yellowjackets eventually had a 15 point run to put them up by 20 about midway through the second half. The Eagles eventually fell 65-88 to the Yellowjackets.
The Eagles top scorer for the day was forward William Blet, with 18 points. Sam Gallardo also contributed well for the team with 13 points. Jaron Fairweather was great from downtown and finished with 11 points.
It was a disappointing ending for the Eagles, especially after the amazing season they had. That being said, there is a lot to be proud of from this season and by far this is the best men’s basketball team Eastern has ever had. Another positive is that the Eagles are a fairly young team and the majority of the starting lineup will be returning next season. One would have to think head coach Dan Pruessner will be excited to get back to work next season with this talented group and see if they can take it a step further next season.