Six straight free throws by Tavelyn James in the final 40 seconds Saturday sent Eastern Michigan’s women’s basketball team to a 56-51 victory over host Akron.
The Eagles are 13-7 and 4-2 in the Mid-American Conference.
The Eagles had three players in double figures. James led the way with 17 points, and Sydney Huntley-Rodgers had 12. Cassie Schrock came close to her second career triple-double as she posted 10 points, along with seven rebounds and seven assists.
With Paige Redditt and Kristin Thomas finding themselves in foul trouble and eventually fouling out, it was sophomore India Hairston who came through and led EMU defensively with 14 rebounds. Thomas also added nine rebounds.
Leading the Zips was Rachel Tecca with 19 points and 18 rebounds; however, no one else on the Akron roster reached double figures. Akron shot 31 percent (15-for-51) and went 1-for-16 on three-pointers .
The Eagles got off to a 9-4 lead with James and Huntley-Rodgers accounting for eight of those points. After six second-chance points boosted EMU’s lead to 17-9, the Zips bounced back with a 6-0 run to pull within two with 9:32 left in the opening half.
Akron would score two more points before the break as the Eagles’ defense stopped their field goal production, as they did not score another in the first half.
EMU’s offense used the time to go on a 10-12 run, featuring a three-pointer by Huntley-Rodgers with 4:04 left, which put the Eagles up by 10.
With 3:50 to go, Caryl Young put up a free throw for the Zips. James responded with a triple, and on the following play, freshman Natacia Watkins grabbed her own offensive rebound and added a layup. The Eagles went to the locker room with a 32-18 advantage.
Huntley-Rodgers led all scorers in the first-half with 12 points, connecting on 4-of-7 from three-point range, putting in her fair share of EMU’s seven first-half three-point field goals.
The Eagles scored the first three points of the second-half before a layup by Jasmine Mushington got the Zips’ first field-goal, making the score 35-21. Four consecutive points from Tecca would pull Akron to within 39-27.
EMU would be next to go through a dry spell as it did not score a field goal for the next 10 minutes. With 4:52, De’Ja Wills hit a shot off of the glass to get EMU back on the board, however, the Zips answered with a three-point play from Tecca, cutting the Eagles’ lead to seven.
Young made two more free throws to pull the Zips to within 47-42, with 3:25 to play. Schrock put up her only field-goal of the game to put the Eagles back up by seven.
The Zips would pull within three with 15 seconds left, but James came through from the free-throw line. In the last minute.
The Eagles will return home as they prepare for a matchup with Ohio University (6-13, 2-4 MAC) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Convocation Center.