The snow falling outside the Convocation Center didn’t stop the 252 devoted fans from coming to see the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team take on its Mid-American Conference foe, the University of Buffalo Bulls, Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, the Eagles couldn’t sustain any momentum, and as a result lost to the Bulls 79-63.
Senior center India Hairston led the way for the Eagles (6-18, 4-7 MAC) with 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting, and was also a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. She recorded a double-double by pulling down 13 rebounds in 35 minutes on the floor.
Also recording a double-double Saturday for the Eagles was redshirt junior guard Natachia Watkins, who scored 12 on 3-of-18 shooting and was 3-of-4 from the free-throw line. She had 10 rebounds in the contest as well, while playing 34 minutes.
Rounding out the double-digit scorers for the Eagles was junior guard Desyree Thomas. She scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the floor and was perfect from the free-throw line, sinking both of her attempts. She only played 30 minutes, missing significant time due to four personal fouls.
Cherridy Thornton led the way for the Bulls (8-16, 6-5 MAC) with 16 points off the bench on 6-of-12 shooting. She was also 1-of-2 from beyond the arc and a perfect 3-of-3 in free-throw shooting.
The Bulls had three other players in double digits: Christa Baccas and Mackenzie Loesing each scored 15 and Margeaux Gupilan added 13 in the winning effort for Buffalo.
“[Buffalo] did a very good job of executing offensively,” EMU coach Tory Verdi said. “We missed some defensive assignments defending the three-point line. They did a really good job with pass backs, where they hit the wing and passed it back to the top and so forth. We didn’t respond and we didn’t anticipate as well as we should have, giving them those opportunities. They hit open threes and we didn’t.”
The early minutes of the first half saw both teams exchanging baskets. With the score tied 6-6 at the 15:30 mark, the Bulls broke things open. The team went on a 10-0 run over the next 1:52, forcing Verdi to call the Eagles’ first timeout.
The Bulls didn’t stop there. Buffalo outplayed the Eagles and led 42-26 at the break.
The Bulls scored 21 points in the first half from three-point range, and shot 7-of-17 (41.2 percent).
EMU only made one three-pointer in the entire half (Bianca Cage with 6:13 remaining), of the three the team attempted.
As a team, the Eagles shot 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) from the floor in the first half.
The Bulls, on the other hand, were making their shots count. Buffalo shot 17-of-29 (58.6 percent) from the floor.
At the break, Thomas led the team with eight points, and Hairston was right behind her with seven.
After 20 minutes for the Bulls, Thornton led the team with 12 points.
The second half saw the Eagles pick up some momentum early, but Buffalo answered with timely three pointers and kept the Eagle offense in check as they cruised to a 16-point victory.
The Eagles next take on the Ball State University Cardinals on Wednesday in Muncie, Ind. As of press date, the Cardinals are in first place in the MAC. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be carried live on WEMU 89.1 FM.
Verdi said that his team did have a lot to work on against Ball State, but worrying about the Cardinals was not high on his list.
“Instead of worrying about our opponents, we need to come back on Monday and worry about ourselves,” Verdi said.