Tim Bond Jr.'s homecoming was a thoroughly enjoyable one for the City graduate and his Eastern Michigan team.
Bond, the Baltimore resident who powered the Knights to the Class 3A state championship in 2014, scored 14 points and Eastern Michigan outlasted host Coppin State, 73-62, before an announced 813 at the Physical Education Complex in Baltimore on Monday night.
Bond, who drew loud applause when he was introduced and raucous boos when he was whistled for fouls, connected on 5-for-8 shooting, making two of his four 3-point attempts. The sophomore's first basket was an alley-oop dunk off a pass from junior guard Ty Toney that earned wild cheers from a pro-Eastern Michigan crowd donning the school's green colors and waving signs with Bond's name on them.
"It felt like a home game, to be honest," said Bond, who added four rebounds and two assists and blocked a dunk attempt by Eagles junior guard James Sylvester in the first half that brought many fans to their feet. "Every time we scored, we would hear the crowd, but every time Coppin scored, you don't really hear anybody. So it was just a great experience for everybody. I loved it today. I had a lot of friends and family that came to support. Heard them throughout the whole game. But at the end of the day, we just wanted to get the win."
Junior guard Willie Mangum IV chipped in 15 points, and Ty Toney registered 11 of his 13 points in the second half, seven assists and five rebounds. Freshman center James Thompson IV finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, becoming the first player in program history to record seven consecutive doubledoubles since George Gervin notched 11 straight during the 1971-72 season.
Eastern Michigan, which had entered the game ranked as the third-worst team in Division I in 3-point field-goal percentage at 25.0 percent, rediscovered its accuracy against Coppin State. Eastern Michigan shot 41.2 percent (7-for-17) from behind the arc, including 60 percent (6-for-10) in the first half.
"We haven't shot the ball well, but I tell our guys to stay confident and when you get the shots, you take them," coach Rob Murphy said. "Today, we just knocked some down. We haven't done anything differently. I think throughout the season, we just haven't shot the ball well because we haven't taken many good shots. But we've continued to get better as we've worked toward executing on the offensive side of the ball. I thought we had some good looks."
Eastern Michigan dominated much of the first half, scoring 10 of the game's first 13 points and owning a 24-16 advantage for its largest lead of the period.
But Coppin State closed out the first half with a 25-13 run. The turning point occurred when Eastern Michigan redshirt junior guard Raven Lee fouled Sylvester and then was assessed a technical foul for slamming the ball onto the floor.
Junior guard Christian Kessee sank both free throws off the technical foul, Sylvester followed with two more, and Coppin State had a 34-32 lead — the team's first since 3-0 to open the game.
A layup by Thompson tied the score at 34, but Coppin State embarked on a 7-3 burst to enjoy a 41-37 advantage at halftime.
Eastern Michigan opened the second half by scoring five consecutive points, and Coppin State enjoyed its final lead at 49-47 with 14:01 left in regulation.
Coppin State, which scored just 21 points in the second half, lost its long-range touch. After connecting on 37.5 percent (6-of-16) of 3-pointers in the first half, the team sank just 20 percent (3-of-15) in the second period.
Kessee and Sylvester scored 18 and 14 points, respectively, but 31 of those points came in the first half. In the second, they missed all 10 of their shots from the field.
"Just to not allow him to get any free looks," Murphy said of the defensive strategy against Kessee, who went 0-for-8 (including 0-for-4 on 3-point attempts) in the second half. "I thought we lost sight of him starting with the first play of the game when he came out and hit a 3-point shot. He was the main guy we talked about and addressed throughout our scout. So our guys didn't pay attention to detail, and they didn't follow the game plan. We challenged them at halftime to make sure we located him along with other shooters and not allow these guys to see the rim."