Everything started well for the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team Saturday afternoon, as it jumped out to an early lead over Mid-American Conference opponent Akron University.
The good fortune wouldn’t last long, as the Eagles couldn’t overcome a late first-half run by the Zips, losing 73-66 at the Convocation Center.
“We got off to a good start, that’s been our problem lately,” EMU guard Cassie Schrock said. “And then they went on a run to end the half, and that just really hurt us.”
The Eagles (15-5, 5-3) jumped out to an early 12-point lead at the 10:10 mark to make it 25-13, after Sydney Huntley made two 3-pointers on consecutive possessions.
Huntley came out shooting, scoring 13 points in her 12 first-half minutes. She finished the game with 28 points, six 3-pointers and three steals.
“I’m just letting the game come to me,” she said. “I’m trying to do whatever the team needs me to do. If that’s score, or find the hot hand, that’s what I’m trying to do.”
After Huntley’s 3-pointers, Eastern had trouble scoring while Akron (12-9, 6-2) made its comeback. The Eagles could only muster five more points in the half, with the Zips leading at the end of the period 39-30.
“That killed us,” coach AnnMarie Gilbert said. “We were up at one point, the tables turned, then they went on a run.”
The lack of scoring, combined with Akron’s run, would lead to EMU’s downfall.
“I mean, we just couldn’t hit shots really,” Schrock said. “We had open looks, but we just couldn’t knock them down.”
The Zips continued their consistent scoring into the second half, but Eastern was able to trim their lead late.
After Schrock made good on two free-throws to close the deficit to eight with 6:02 left, Huntley and Tavelyn James took over. The duo scored 20 of the team’s 21 points the rest of the way.
The effort by the guards came too late for the Eagles, as they were forced to put the Zips at the free-throw line to close out the game.
Schrock ended the game with 11 points, nine assists and four steals. James had 20 points.
After Huntley scored the game winner in the previous contest against Ohio University, her coach seems to have a renewed confidence in the junior. Gilbert ran a three-guard set late in the game, which featured Huntley, James and Schrock.
“You know, we thought about starting her, because she has that capability,” Gilbert said. “You’re going to see a lot more of her because she’s a kid who, regardless of whether we’ve been up, has been consistent. She’s trying to grow her game and you saw some of the best of her.”
Even with the performance, Gilbert wants to see more of the junior guard.
“Now we need her to not disappear,” she said. “We need her to show up at Buffalo and beyond Buffalo. We need consistency now.”
The Eagles visit the University of Buffalo Wednesday night in Buffalo, N.Y.
“Their record isn’t very good, but they’ve hung with every team they’ve played,” Schrock said.
The Bulls are 6-15 and 2-6 in the MAC.
“They’re a very good basketball team who’s much improved,” Gilbert said. “They’ve put together a solid attack. It’s a team that’s very capable of beating us. We’re going to have to really work hard to make plays against Buffalo in order to come back with a win.
Tipoff is at 7 p.m.