The Emory men's basketball team (13-8, 4-6 UAA) snapped a three-game losing streak in resounding fashion on Friday night, as the Eagles trounced the WashU Bears at home, 89-76. The sophomore guard duo of Ben Pearce and Jair Knight took over the game from start to finish, combining for 58 points in the win. The pair's 58 points is the third most in a game by two players in program history, and the most since 2014 when McPherson Moore and Jake Davis combined for 58 in a game against Case Western Reserve.
Pearce finished with a career single-game high with 32 points and Knight was close behind with 26 points of his own, one shy of his career-best. Junior Cale Martens joined his teammates in double-digits, putting up 11 points on the night. Senior Max Fried led the team in rebounds, pulling down 10 to add on to his eight points.
The Bears jumped out to a quick start, though, leading the Eagles 14-6 after knocking down a couple of threes while forcing a few turnovers on defense. However, around the 14-minute mark, the Emory offense began to find its footing. Knight knocked down a pair of threes within minutes of each other before freshman AJ Harris and Pearce hit three-pointers of their own to cut into the WashU lead and brought the score to 24-23 with a little over nine minutes remaining. As a team, the Eagles converted four of their first seven attempts from beyond the arc.
The Eagles' luck from deep began to run out, though, as they began to hit a bit of a dry spell. Yet, they found different ways to find points, knocking down their free throws and scoring a few buckets inside the paint to keep the game within reach. The Eagles went into the break trailing the Bears, 40-36. Pearce went into the half with 16 points, while Knight had 11 of his own.
Looking for the Eagles' first lead of the night, Pearce came out of the break firing. The sophomore guard converted a contested layup before knocking down a three in transition to give the Eagles a 42-40 lead – a lead they would not surrender. Knight drilled a three on the ensuing possession and brought the crowd to its feet. With momentum on their side, the Eagles opened the half on a 22-11 run.
Yet, the Bears continued to fight back and brought the game back to a score of 58-54 with just over 12 minutes remaining. Needing a spark on offense, Knight drilled yet another three-point shot with 11:26 remaining before the Eagles called a timeout to regroup while leading 63-57. Coming out of the timeout, Emory went on a 15-4 run to extend its lead to 78-61, with Pearce and Knight accounting for 11 of the Eagles' points during the stretch.
The Eagles put on cruise control the rest of the way, knocking down their shots from the free-throw line and preventing the Bears from getting many clean shots. For good measure, Knight drilled a three at the 3:26 mark to take an 83-65 lead, the largest of the contest. The Bears called a timeout as the Eagles got ready to close this one out. Martens knocked down a couple of shots in the paint down the stretch to put any threat of a comeback to bed, as the Eagles pulled away with a crucial win over a conference opponent.
In the second half alone, the Eagles shot 60.7% from the field and were 5-7 from beyond the arc. The Eagles were also impressive from the line down the stretch, knocking down 14 of their 15 attempts from the free throw line in the second half. In addition to timely offense, Emory held the Bears to 3-11 shooting from three-point range in the latter half of the game. Knight was on a mission in the second half as well, shooting a perfect 3-3 from deep, while his counterpart Pearce shot 7-11 from the field.
With the win, the Eagles improve to 13-8 on the year and 4-6 in UAA play. The Eagles will now prepare for the final game of the homestand as they welcome UChicago for another UAA matchup on Sunday. The game against the Maroons will tip off at 12:00 PM at the Woodruff P.E. Center.