INDIANAPOLIS – Jamaal Robateau scored a career-high 26 points, but Gardner-Webb saw Eastern Michigan rally from an early deficit to take a 76-68 win at Indiana Farmers Arena Friday in the 2K Classic sub-regional.
Robateau connected on three shots – including two three-pointers – in the first four minutes of the game to spark Gardner-Webb to a 14-0 lead. The Runnin' Bulldogs (0-3) made their first five shots – including four treys – to seize the early advantage.
Eastern Michigan (2-2) finally got on the board with a trey of its own, but Brandon Miller responded with an old-fashioned trifecta for a 17-3 lead with just under 14 minutes to play in the half.
The Runnin' Bulldogs found themselves in significant foul trouble early, however, putting the Eagles in the bonus in less than six minutes. Eastern Michigan, the preseason MAC West Division favorites, exerted itself the rest of the half with several GWU regulars sidelined with two fouls.
A 13-0 run by the Eagles ensued to cut the lead to 17-16 and grew to a 21-4 spurt that gave the Eagles a 24-21 lead with 8:04 remaining in the half.
Eastern Michigan continued to extend its lead in the late stages of the half. After a pair of Liam O'Reilly free throws trimmed the lead to 29-28, the Eagles went on another run – this time a 13-2 spurt – to lead 42-30 with 58 seconds on the first half clock.
A late dunk pushed the Eastern Michigan lead to 44-32 at the half.
Gardner-Webb cut the lead into single digits several times in the second half, but could get no closer than six points on Robateau's four-point play at the 15:59 mark. The Eagles pushed the lead to as large as 15 points and allowed GWU within single digits just once more until less than a minute remained in the game.
Robateau made 8-of-10 shots (5-of-7 from deep) to reach his career-best total in the scoring column. Tyrell Nelson finished with 11 points and eight boards and Laquincy Rideau added nine points, three rebounds and three assists. Forward Brandon Miller came off the bench to score nine points in his first action of the season for GWU.
Willie Mangum IV came off the bench to net a game-high 28 points for Eastern Michigan, hitting his first eight shots – including six threes – to shake the Eagles from their early slumber. NBA prospect James Thompson IV added 15 points and 12 boards and Ray Lee added 11.
The Eagles shot just 38.1 percent for the game, but knocked down 8-of-17 from long range and took advantage of 24 Gardner-Webb turnovers. Eastern Michigan, which employs an effective 2-3 zone, pilfered 11 steals in the game as well.
Gardner-Webb cooled after its red-hot start, finishing the game at 46.7 percent from the floor (21-of-45). That included a 9-of-15 effort from long range (60.0 percent), which was paced by Robateau (5-for-7) and Rideau (3-for-3).
Gardner-Webb will take on the loser of the Howard-IUPUI game on Saturday morning at 11:00 am at Indiana Farmers Arena.