Despite junior Natachia Watkins’ scrappy effort and timely shooting, the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team’s quest for its first set of back-to-back wins of the season came up short as the team fell to the Bowling Green State University Falcons, 61-47, Sunday at the Convocation Center.
Watkins scored in double figures for the fourth time in the last five games with 14, on 7-of-14 shooting, to go along with five steals, four rebounds and four assists.
EMU coach Tory Verdi said Watkins did a good job driving to the basket.
“When things broke down in the first half, we needed Natachia to be more aggressive and selfish since we did not have anything else going [on offense],” Verdi said.
Freshman Bianca Cage had another strong showing off the bench for EMU (4-15, 2-4 Mid-American Conference) with a team-high 15 points, on 4-of-9 shooting, to go along with 5-of-6 from the free-throw line.
Senior Chelsea Hite played a career-high 32 minutes and scored eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, to go along with six boards to round out the Eagles’ main scoring.
“Chelsea’s growth and development as a player has come leaps and bounds from the fall,” Verdi said. “She understands her role on this team and she has gotten better for us every single week.”
For Bowling Green (13-6, 4-2 MAC), freshman Bailey Cairnduff scored a game-high 18 points, on 5-of-9 shooting, to go along with 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in just 24 minutes.
Senior Chrissy Steffen chipped in with 12 points, on 4-of-10 shooting, to go along with 3-3 from the foul line and four rebounds.
Redshirt junior Alexis Rogers rounded out Bowling Green’s scoring with 11 points, on 3-of-5 shooting, to go along with a perfect 5-of-5 from the foul line.
As a team, the Eagles were outrebounded by the Falcons, 42-24.
EMU’s shooting was the polar opposite of the Kent State game, where they went 25-of-54, but in this game they shot just 19-of-47.
The Eagles got off to a slow start, giving up eight straight points to the Falcons.
EMU’s first basket came from senior India Hairston with 15:53 left in the first half.
A bright spot in the first half came at the 12:32 mark, when Watkins grabbed a defensive rebound and dribbled down the court coast to coast to make a layup and drawing a foul, sending her to the line where she missed the attempt.
The closest the Eagles got to taking the lead in the first half was when they trailed 15-9, on Cage’s three-point make.
EMU went into the locker room trailing Bowling Green by 15, 33-18.
In the first nine minutes of the second half, the Eagles’ deficit bounced between 11 and 17 points.
Hairston fouled out of the game with 10:08 left in regulation forcing Hite to play the remainder of the contest, but she responded with her energy and hustle.
EMU managed to bring the tempo back to their pace, but Bowling Green maintained a double-digit lead and never looked back as they made their foul shots in the latter part of the second half to secure the victory.
The Eagles played without sophomore Amber Bogard, who injured her right arm in the Kent State game and is day-to-day. No further comment was made by Verdi about the specification of the injury.
With the loss, EMU drops to 1-9 at home this season.
The attendance for the game was 405.
The Eagles continue their three-game home stand when they take on the Northern Illinois Huskies Thursday at the Convocation Center.
EMU leads the overall series, 28-9.
In their last game, the Huskies lost to the Toledo Rockets, 44-42, Saturday.
Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be heard on WEMU 89.1 FM.