A last-minute layup by Kristin Thomas followed by a pair of free-throws from Cassie Schrock lifted the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team to a 69-65 victory over Kent State University Wednesday at the Quicken Loans Arena in the second round of the Mid-American Conference tournament.
With the win the Eagles advance to the semi-finals of the MAC tournament. The team has not been to the semifinals since the 2006-07 season, when it beat Ohio University in the quarterfinals.
Tavelyn James paced the Eagles with 21 points while Sydney Huntley-Rodgers poured in 20 and was named the game’s most valuable player. Schrock added a double-double scoring 16 points and dishing out 11 assists. Thomas and India Hairston led the defensive efforts of EMU with six rebounds each.
For the Golden Flashes, Jamilah Humes led the way with 19 points and Ellie Shields’ 17 points followed close behind. Taisja Jones added 15 points while Chenel Harris pitched in with seven rebounds.
The game was a back-and-forth battle from beginning to end as the teams exchanged the lead 15 times and were tied nine times throughout. On the first play of the game, Shields drove to the basket and connected on the layup, giving KSU an early lead over the Eagles.
The next few possessions were scoreless until Schrock and James were sent to the line to put EMU on top by two. The Flashes answered with a layup to tie the game and continue a short run that gave them an 8-4 lead with 16:37 to play before EMU came back to take the lead.
The Eagles took a 31-27 lead into the locker room at the break. Coming out of that break, James connected on a triple which sparked EMU’s offense as it fought its way to a 12-point, 52-40, lead with 10:18 remaining.
EMU went scoreless over the next five minutes, allowing the Golden Flashes to get out to an 11-0 run and cut the lead down to one point with 5:46 to play. Schrock ended the EMU offensive drought when she connected on a 3-point field-goal that put the Eagles back up by four.
From that point on the teams continued to struggle with the lead, changing it nine times and find themselves tied four times. The score was last tied with 00:50 remaining when each team had 65 points after a free-throw by Jones for the Flashes. On the next possession, Thomas grabbed the offensive board after a missed layup by James and sank the second chance points, putting EMU up by two.
Humes missed a layup for KSU, and Harris was forced to foul Schrock. Schrock, a 66 percent free-throw shooter, connected on both which put the Eagles up by four with five seconds left to play. The Flashes were then forced to call a timeout and coming out of that time out, Jones missed a triple and Thomas came down with the rebound, holding it for the final seconds as EMU escaped with a 69-65 victory.
EMU finished the game going 50 percent from the field on 27-for-54 shooting. They out-rebounded the Golden Flashes 33-28 and connected on 11 of their 13 free-throw attempts for an 84.6 percentage.
The Eagles will now suit up for the MAC Tournament semifinals which will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena. EMU is scheduled to tip off with the No. 1-seeded Toledo Rockets.