The Eastern Michigan University Eagles lost a tough matchup in front of a predominantly maize and blue crowd of 636 at the Convocation Center to the University of Michigan Wolverines 55-43 Tuesday night. The Eagles are 1-8 on the season, while the Wolverines are 8-2.
The loss was overshadowed by redshirt senior guard Miranda Tate leaving the game late in the second half with an apparent back injury. Tate has been suffering back problems for most of the season and came down in a heap following a layup attempt with less than a minute to go in the game.
After the game, head coach Tory Verdi gave an update on Tate’s status.
“She’s [Tate] had chronic back problems. Throughout the game you could tell it was bothering her. Every time she shot the ball, she would wince. On the last play, she drove it to the basket, came down, twisted it and it just locked up on her,” Verdi said. “Right now, I don’t know her status.”
The first half started out in favor of the Wolverines, who got out to a quick 6-4 lead in the first 4:52 of the game. After a timeout, Verdi made a switch for the Eagles and Tate was benched in favor of senior guard Taylor Bird. Early on, it looked like the team was having trouble pulling things together.
The two teams traded baskets over the next three minutes before the Wolverines took a commanding lead. Michigan went on a 13-0 run before a frustrated Verdi called a timeout with 7:01 to go in the half. The Eagles scored 11 points after the timeout, holding the Wolverines to six, but Michigan still took a 27-19 lead into the break.
At halftime, the Eagles were an abysmal 8 for 29 from the floor. They were zero for the half in three-point shooting. Tate had five points on 2-7 shooting. The positive point of the first half was EMU’s 75 percent shooting from the free throw line in four attempts.
On the flip side, the Wolverines were clicking: Shooting 10 for 25 (40 percent) from the floor, they were also 4 for 11 from long distance led by Kate Thompson who was 3-6 from beyond the arc. The Wolverines also made three of their four free throw attempts.
The Wolverines came out swinging in the second half. They went on a 16-9 run in the first 10 minutes. After trading baskets for the next two and a half minutes the Eagles still trailed 50-31 with 7:33 to go.
The Eagles went on a 10-5 run to finish the game, but the Wolverines proved to be too much as they easily won 55-43.
Tate finished the game one rebound shy of a double-double. She had
12 points on 4 for 20 shooting and was a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line. Senior center India Hairston led the team with 16 points on 8-15 shooting and pulled down six rebounds. She missed the lone three-pointer she attempted. Freshman guard Bianca Cage scored six points off the bench on 2-7 and made the team’s only two three-pointers.
As a team, the Eagles shot 17-63 (27 percent) for the game and Cage was two for the team’s 20 (10 percent) from three-point range. The Eagles were also 7-10 (70 percent) from the free throw line.
“That’s where we’re struggling,” Verdi said. “We can’t go 17-63. We have to keep shooting and get some confidence. Sometimes we’re not playing to our strengths. I think frustration sets in, we’re not sticking to our game plan. We have to make the game come to us.”
Thompson led the Wolverines in scoring. She had 17 points on 6-16 shooting and 5-13 from three-point land. Sam Arnold scored 11 off the bench on 4-5 shooting and made the lone three-pointer she attempted. Nya Jordan scored 10 points and was one rebound short of a double-double herself. Jordan was 4-7 from the floor.
The Wolverines shot a remarkably better 21-53 (39.6 percent) from the floor. From three-point range, the team shot 7-22 (31.8 percent) and shot 6-8 (75 percent) from the free throw line.
The Eagles play again Dec. 15 when they take on the University of Missouri at Kansas City. After that, they travel to New Orleans to play in the Tulane Holiday Tournament. They return home after the New Year to face Loyola University Chicago Jan. 5. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center.
Verdi attributed the team’s slow start to the schedule the team has faced thus far. He said that all the teams the Eagles have played to date are all contenders to win their respective conferences.
“We don’t have the easiest schedule. We played a really tough schedule,” Verdi said. “With that being said, I feel that is going to prepare us for our conference play. I wish we weren’t 1-8. I think that will make us stronger and that the wins will come.”