Despite junior Natachia Watkins’s best efforts to keep her team in the contest with a game-high 16 points, the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team dropped its second game in a row 56-40 to the Toledo Rockets at the Convocation Center Wednesday evening.
EMU falls to 3-13 and 1-3 in the Mid-American Conference, while Toledo moves to 13-2 and 2-1 in the MAC.
Multiple missed layups played a significant factor in the loss.
“We struggled offensively again to knock down perimeter shots and finish around the basket,” EMU head coach Tory Verdi said after the game. “The difference was they knocked down shots and we didn’t.”
For the Rockets, this was essentially a de facto home game, as the majority of the 549 fans in attendance sported midnight blue and rocket gold.
Watkins’ 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting and 2-of-2 from the foul line was accompanied by eight rebounds, barely missing out on a double-double.
Senior India Hairston chipped in with seven points and four rebounds.
Sophomore Iesha Collins scored five points in 18 minutes and made the first three-point basket of her college career to round out EMU’s major scoring.
Turnovers have continued to affect junior Desyree Thomas, as she coughed up the ball six more times in Wednesday’s loss.
“We are trying to get two ball-handlers [Collins and Thomas] in there, especially against the zone trying to break it down,” Verdi said.
Junior Andola Dortch led the way for the Rockets with 14 points on 3-of-6 from three-point range to go along with 5-of-5 from the free-throw line.
In just 19 minutes, senior Yolanda Richardson contributed with seven points and grabbed eight boards.
Comparing both teams, EMU showed rapid improvement in rebounding from previous games with 30, but Toledo matched that total as well.
Steals were easy to come by as the Eagles managed 11 compared to Toledo’s 12.
What ultimately led to the Eagles’ demise was their poor shooting; they hit 16-of-48 (33.3 percent) from the field while the Rockets fared better with 19-of-42 (45.2 percent).
“We spend about an hour every single day in practice shooting, and hopefully they will start to fall sooner rather than later,” Verdi said.
The first points for the Eagles did not come until the 12:56 mark of the first half, when Watkins made the first basket on a layup.
Watkins scored EMU’s first six points of the game.
The Eagles were unable to put together any momentum for the rest of the half as they went into the locker room down 30-11 to the Rockets.
In the second half, the Eagles were never able to cut the deficit to single digits as the Rockets coasted the rest of the way.
EMU’s 11-point first half is the lowest total at home since Jan. 12, 2000, when they played the Central Michigan Chippewas.
Senior Taylor Bird returned to the lineup after a death in her family caused her to miss EMU’s last two games.
On Sunday, Jan. 20, the Eagles will travel to Oxford, Ohio to start a two-game road trip against the Miami (Ohio) Red Hawks.
Miami (Ohio) is 9-6 on the season and took care of the Western Michigan Broncos 73-47 Jan. 13.
Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. and can be heard on WEMU 89.1 FM.
The Eagles then travel to Kent, Ohio to face off with the Kent State Golden Flashes Jan. 24.
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Related: Photo gallery of game