The Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team opened its season with an 84-60 win over Saginaw Valley State in exhibition play Friday at the Convocation Center.
The Eagles were outrebounded 51-44 and had eight more personal fouls than the Cardinals. But the Eagles were able to take care of the ball better, turning it over 20 times while Saginaw Valley State gave it up 41 times.
Eastern’s defense was key in the win with 26 steals compared to seven by the Cardinals.
Both teams got off to a slow start. However, the Eagles picked up the pace when they expanded a four-point lead to 13 after a nine-point run with 8:53 left in the first half. All of those nine points were acquired on back-to-back three-pointers by senior guard Sydney Huntley-Rodgers and junior guard Tavelyn James.
Huntley-Rodgers and James led the Eagles with 18 points each. They were followed by junior forward Paige Redditt who added 13.
A three-point shot by junior guard Marah Kyle helped the Cardinals shrink the Eagles’ 13-point lead to 29-21, with 2:55 left in the half. However the Eagles gained that lead back and more, going into the locker room up 38-24.
Saginaw Valley State was led by sophomore guard Jasmine Kennedy, who scored 12. Sophomore center Grace Herzog had11 points.
The second half was marked by a storm of scoring by the Eagles. It started with EMU turning in seven unanswered points in the first three minutes. A layup by Natachia Watkins put the Eagles up by 35 with 10:06 left to play. From that point on the freshman Eagles, or “Fabulous Four” as coach AnnMarie Gilbert calls them, dominated the court as EMU closed out with a 24-point lead.
The Fabulous Four were led by guard Watkins, who had 11 points, six rebounds and three steals.
“Natachia was our most productive player tonight,” Gilbert said. “[She] is so athletic. She will take this conference (Mid-American) by storm.”
Forward Olivia Fouty turned in two points and five rebounds while forward Sarah Stone got one rebound and guard Desyree Thomas scored four. Each of the four had a significant amount of playing time in their collegiate debut with Thomas leading the way at 18 minutes.
The Eagles will play their second and final exhibition game against Northwood University 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4 at the Convocation Center.