The Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team lost Saturday to the University of Loyola-Chicago Ramblers at the Convocation Center 64-54, in front of 244 fans.
The Ramblers (5-8) came into the game after losing the two previous games.
At 1:44 into the game, junior Natachia Watkins got the Eagles started by scoring the first point for the Eagles from the foul line, but missed the second attempt.
The Eagles applied a full-court press on the Ramblers, forcing them to miss shots and turn the ball over.
EMU led for most of the first half until Loyola-Chicago closed it on an 11-0 run to put them ahead 30-27.
The Eagles’ three-point deficit put them behind for the 12th time in 13 games this season going into halftime.
In the second half, EMU did not regain the lead as the Ramblers adjusted their primary defense from man-to-man to zone causing execution problems.
“It [the zone] became our Achilles heel and our inability to knock down open shots,” EMU women’s basketball head coach Tory Verdi said. “Our guards have to do a better job of attacking the gaps, collapsing the defenses, and our bigs have to do a better job of ducking in and scoring.”
Missed layups and wide-open jump shots helped in EMU’s demise as they shot 22-of-67 (32.8 percent) as a team and shot 2-of-15 (13.3 percent) from three-point range.
Already short-handed, the Eagles lost Natachia Watkins for the rest of the second half after committing a foul with what appeared to be a knee injury, but no further comment was made about the injury.
“Ultimately, what changed the game was our turnovers,” Verdi said. “We were dictating, we executed our game plan for the first seven to eight minutes, but we should have been up even more than that.”
Even in a losing effort, it was the work of new starters senior Taylor Bird and junior Sara Stone who stepped up to make the game as competitive as possible.
For the Eagles (2-11), Stone took advantage of the playing time left from Miranda Tate’s dismissal leading the way with 15 points. She was 6-of-14 from the floor (42.9 percent) and went 3-for-3 (100 percent) from the foul line to go along with eight rebounds.
“Sara has taken advantage of her opportunity and it is good to see someone else stepping up and being aggressive,” Verdi said. “She [Stone] has done a great job in that area.”
Senior India Hairston finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting (41.7 percent) and went just 1-of-3 (33.3 percent) from the free-throw line along with nine rebounds.
Bird fell one rebound shy of her first-ever double-double with 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting and went 2-of-6 (33.3 percent) from three-point range along with nine rebounds.
Monica Albano led Loyola-Chicago’s scoring with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-16 (50 percent) from the field and 7-of-11 (63.6 percent) from three-point range. Simone Law recorded a double-double with 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting (43.8 percent) and 4-of-5 (80 percent) from the foul line along with 11 rebounds.
The game marked EMU’s first since the dismissal of leading scorer Tate on Jan. 2 due to an unspecified violation of team rules.
On the same day, junior Olivia Fouty, who had been sidelined since the South Dakota State game, was declared out for the season after having knee surgery.
Moving forward, the Eagles begin a two-game road trip traveling to Kalamazoo to take on Western Michigan University at 7 p.m. Wednesday night. Western Michigan is 4-8 on the season.
The Eagles will travel to Mount Pleasant Jan. 13 to play Central Michigan University. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Both games will be broadcast on WEMU 89.1 FM.