Additions help take Eagles to 2-0 start

Junior college transfer Kristin Thomas, shown in a Nov. 7 exhibition, is averaging 11 rebounds.

It’s obvious women’s basketball coach AnnMarie Gilbert she likes what she has seen in her team after two wins to start the season.

“It’s like we doubled our talent from last year,” said Gilbert, who’s in her third season at Eastern Michigan University. “It’s a great feeling. These girls have been working really hard.”

The Eagles have started strongly, with a 61-49 win at Illinois-Chicago on Friday and an 87-45 home victory over Marygrove (Detroit) College on Tuesday.

Last season, they didn’t get their second win until the fourth game against Siena (N.Y.), which is their first opponent of a three-game trip starting 7 p.m. Thursday.

Talented newcomers are part of the reason for the good start. Freshman guards Lindsey Mahone and Chenise Miller, and junior college transfer and forward Kristin Thomas have contributed.

Gilbert called Thomas a “rebounding force,” which suits her well. She’s had 22 rebounds in 32 minutes played this season. Thomas played at Hillsborough (Fla.) Community College last season, and she played one season at Central Florida before that.

Thomas was an All-American at Hillsborough, averaging 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Miller (West Bloomfield H.S.) averages 14 points, which leads the team, along with seven rebounds. Her mother, Cheryl, played at Detroit Mercy and holds the school’s career records for rebounds and blocks.

“She could be a starter, but right now we like the way that Lindsey Mahone plays defense,” Gilbert said. “She’s a great player to have come off the bench.”

Mahone (Corpus Christi, Texas) has played a role in a defense that’s held its opponents to an average of 47 points and 30 percent from the field. She’s averaged five points and three rebounds and has three steals.

The fresh faces add to a previously inexperienced team that went 8-21 (4-12 Mid-American Conference) last season. Returning are sophomore forward Paige Redditt, sophomore guard Tavelyn James and junior guard Cassie Schrock.

Schrock had a triple-double against Marygrove, with 11 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. She was second (13) to James (15) in scoring last season.

The bench is deep, too, with junior guards Sydney Huntley-Rogers and De’Ja Wills always a threat to score. Huntley-Rogers scored 33 against Ball State and Wills had 23 against Toledo last season.

Following the Siena game, the Eagles play Niagara at 2 p.m. Sunday and Temple at 7 p.m. Nov. 22 before returning to the Convocation Center to play Missouri State at 2 p.m.
Nov. 29.

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