In front of 1,523 fans, the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team dropped a nail biter to the Tulane Green Wave in the semifinal round of the DoubleTree Classic at Devlin Fieldhouse in New Orleans, La. 71-65.
Junior Natachia Watkins led the way with her first double-double of the season with 17 points on 6 of 15 shooting and also pulled down 12 rebounds, while junior India Hairston scored a career-high 18 points on 8 of 10 shooting and pulled four rebounds.
“She [Watkins] had a great second half,” EMU Women’s Basketball head coach Tory Verdi said. “We played four guards and India [Hairston] and she was very active and went to the basket and I hope that kind of play continues for her.”
Despite playing with a broken nose, redshirt senior Miranda Tate chipped in with 14 points on 5 of 15 shooting.
Junior Taylor Bird contributed off the bench with a career-high ten points on 4 of 10 shooting and four assists.
Junior Desyree Thomas dished out a season-high eight assists to round out the Eagles’ main scorers.
For Tulane, redshirt sophomore Whitney Bibbins led the way with 18 points, on 6 of 12 shooting and eight rebounds. Bibbins was also Conference USA Player of the Week two weeks ago.
Sophomores Adesuwa Ebomwonyi and Danielle Blagg each posted nine points for the Green Wave.
The Eagles managed to get as close as six points, but time ran out before they could get any closer to making the comeback.
“The biggest adjustment we must make as a team is consistent work ethic,” Verdi said. “Playing hard for 40 minutes is something that I preach to my players all season long and when you play hard for all 40 minutes, you put yourself in a position to win basketball games.”
Things started out on a positive note for the Eagles as Hairston scored the game’s first two points.
However, EMU’s lead did not last long as the Green Wave countered with an 8-2 run that put them ahead 8-4 with 16 minutes left in the first half.
Coming out of the timeout, both teams exchanged baskets for the next few possessions as the Eagles attempted to stay in the game with the Green Wave.
EMU’s offense came primarily from Hairston and Tate as they were able to get the team to as close as two points in the late stages of the first half.
However, Tulane had other plans as they took control for the rest of the half as their lead grew to as many as 15 points.
The Eagles managed to get two of the 15 points back as they went into the locker room down 13 by the score of 37-24 to the Green Wave.
In the second half, the Eagles as in the first half started out on the right note with an instant three-point by Tate to cut the deficit to 37-27.
Unfortunately, the wheels came off once more for EMU as the Green Wave blew the game wide open with timely baskets and the ability to keep their poise.
The Eagles fell into a 23-point deficit with 6:31 left in regulation.
EMU managed to find a new sense of determination and put together a 12-0 run to cut the deficit to 59-48, with 3:54 left in regulation.
Overall shooting was a major difference for both teams on Sunday. The Eagles shot 26 of 68 (38.2 percent), while the Green Wave shot 26 of 51 (51 percent).
The Eagles will look to bounce back Sunday, Dec. 30 as they play the University of Mississippi Rebels in the consolation game. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.