The defense for the women’s basketball team at Eastern Michigan University rose to the occasion Thursday against Saint Louis University at Seattle’s Holiday Hoops Tourney.
Eastern (7-4) defeated St. Louis (4-9), 66-55 to advance to the Championship game of the Holiday Hoops Classic.
The second half was all EMU. The Eagles broke a tie with 15:00 remaining in the second half. The bucket was made off a steal which lead to a potential fast-break layup. It was EMU’s Desyree Thomas, the 12th-ranked steals leader in the NCAA, who sparked the surging scoring for the Eagles.
The next possession for St. Louis, after a time-out, included another steal by Thomas. She had 10 points, seven steals and six assists. Another Eagle worth mentioning in the success of the team’s effort in the second half was India Hairston who scored 11 points off the bench.
The comeback-minded Billikens pulled within three points with 9:00 remaining in the game, but the Eagles persevered pulling off the 11-point victory.
EMU’s all-time leading scorer, Tavelyn James, led all scorers with 19 points, while Olivia Fouty was a presence in the paint with 11 points and eight rebounds. Senior Paige Redditt added seven points and three rebounds.
In the second half, EMU’s defense held SLU to 34.5 percent from the field, going (10-for-29). While the Eagles offensively shot 53.8 percent from the field (14-for-26).
SLU’s Jacy Bradley led her team in scoring with 13 points, four assists and also led her team in turnovers with six. Every player but one for St. Louis committed a turnover, totaling 27 turnovers for the team. EMU had 14 turnovers in the game.
The two teams were all tied up at the end of the first half, primarily due to St. Louis’s shooting accuracy from beyond-the-arc. SLU shot 51 percent from the 3-point line in the first half, making 4-out-of-7 from beyond the 3-point line. In the second half, SLU made 3-out-of-6 keeping them within striking distance.
The Eagles were just too much in the paint for the Billikens, outscoring Saint Louis 46-14.
The Eagles play for the Championship game at 3 p.m. Friday against Seattle at the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington.