GREEN BAY, Wis. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Taking a break from Horizon League play at this point in the season can be challenging. Playing a team like hard-nosed, slow-tempo Eastern Michigan is also presents a challenge. Brian Wardle's young Green Bay team met both challenges on Saturday afternoon, keeping momentum heading into an important season-ending stretch of conference games and improving its home record to 11-2.
Sophomore Kam Cerroni (Sussex, Wis.) and freshman Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) scored 10 points apiece as Green Bay (12-14) grinded out a 54-49 non-conference win over visiting Eastern Michigan (11-16) in a Sears BracketBuster contest. The victory was Green Bay's fifth in its last seven games.
After Eastern Michigan scored the first four points of the game, Green Bay pushed back to tie the score at 10 on a layup by sophomore Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.). The bucket started a 10-3 run that put Green Bay ahead to stay (18-13).
Free throws by Josh Humphrey (Chicago, Ill.) and Terry Johnson (Chicago, Ill.) gave Green Bay a 24-17 edge before EMU hit a three to close to 24-20 at the half.
Brown had five points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots at the half on his way to a nine-point, 13-rebound, four-block effort. The 7-foot-1 sophomore is now averaging 13.7 points, eight rebounds and three blocks per game.
The lead reached 10 points on two occasions in the second half, the first time when senior Steve Baker (St. Paul, Minn.) drained a three-pointer to make it 34-24. Baker finished with seven points, seven rebounds and four assists off the Green Bay bench.
The Phoenix lead fluctuated between three and 10 over the course of the next 13 minutes, with Eastern Michigan answering every Green Bay run.
Cerroni hit a three-pointer to make it 50-42 with 2:54 remaining, but the Eagles' Darrell Lampley scored five-straight points to cut the margin to three with 1:50 to play. Cerroni made two three-pointers and has now made a three in 15 consecutive games.
After an empty possession for both teams, Sykes drained two free throws with 31 seconds left to push Green Bay's lead to 52-47. EMU hit a pair of free throws on the other end before Brown stepped up to extend the lead to the final margin with a pair of free throws with 21 seconds remaining.
The Phoenix shot 10-for-22 after halftime to finish the game at 40 percent (18-45). Green Bay's defense held the Eagles to 32.7 percent shooting (18-55).
Junior Brennan Cougill (Sioux City, Iowa) added nine points and eight rebounds for the Phoenix, who outrebounded EMU 41-29.
Green Bay will conclude its home schedule on Tuesday, hosting Cleveland State at 7 p.m. for an important Horizon League contest at the Resch Center.
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