After a come-from-behind victory against Western Michigan University Thursday, Eastern Michigan University’s women’s basketball team could not keep up the momentum; a lack of ball movement played a significant factor in its loss to the Central Michigan Chippewas 77-51 in Mount Pleasant Sunday.
This was the first meeting between the two teams since the 2012 Mid-American Conference championship, when the Eagles defeated the Chippewas to advance into the NCAA Tournament.
EMU is now 3-12 overall and 1-1 in the MAC, while CMU moves to 8-7 overall, and 2-0 in the MAC this year.
“Central Michigan is probably one of the best mid-major programs in the country,” EMU head coach Tory Verdi said. “I think their schedule and record is not indicative of how good they are. They are a different team from Western, but having said that, we flat out did not take care of the ball in this game.”
The Eagles managed to muster just three assists as opposed to the Chippewas’ 21.
“We started turning the ball over and we had multiple empty possessions, and therefore our defense let us down,” Verdi said.
As a result, it was difficult for EMU to get into any kind of rhythm throughout the contest.
Another statistic that hurt the Eagles was the team’s inability to make three-point shots. The team went 0-of-4 from downtown, while the Chippewas had a field day, going 12-of-27.
For the Eagles, senior Taylor Bird was not in the line-up for the second straight game due to a death in her family.
Junior Natachia Watkins led all EMU scorers with a game-high 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting to go along with four steals and rebounds each.
In just 20 minutes, sophomore Iesha Collins had a career-high eight points, shooting 4-of-8 from the field.
“We are talking about players on this team that did not have tournament experience from last year, and it is good to see some growth and development from the young kids in this program,” Verdi said.
Senior India Hairston chipped in with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds.
After a game-changing 25-point performance against Western Michigan, freshman Bianca Cage cooled off, scoring only three points. She shot just 1-of-6 from the floor and made only one of the two free throws she attempted.
For Central Michigan, Crystal Bradford notched a double-double with 13 points on 5-of-11 to go along with 13 rebounds.
Jessica Green chipped in 10 points on 3-of-9 and six assists for the Chippewas.
From the opening tip, the Eagles were in for a grind as they came out of the gate down 10-2 with 14:30 left in the first half.
In that stretch, EMU’s only points came on a layup from sophomore Amber Bogard.
From that point forward, there was no looking back as the Chippewas went on multiple runs in the first half. By the time the first 20 minutes were up, the Eagles were down 42-21.
EMU could not recover from the 21-point deficit as the Chippewas continued to pull away in the second half.
When asked about what the team can improve on for the Toledo game, Verdi said, “We must do a better job of answering [runs] and not allow the game to get away from us. We have to be more confident and attack the basket.”
EMU returns home Jan. 16 to take on the Toledo Rockets at the Convocation Center.
Toledo is 12-2 overall and 1-1 in the MAC.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be heard on WEMU 89.1.
Admission is free for all EMU students.
Follow me on Twitter @EasternEchoGeno.
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