Pink ladies: Eagles ‘Play 4 Kay’

Junior Natachia Watkins scored 12 points Saturday.

The Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team rebounded from a heartbreaking loss to Akron Wednesday night by defeating the Ohio University Bobcats on Saturday afternoon, 64-57.

The Eagles wore pink jerseys during the Akron game in support of the fundraising program “Play 4 Kay.” The program is named after the late and former North Carolina State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow, who died of cancer Jan. 24, 2009. Fans who wore pink to the game were admitted for free.

EMU coach Tory Verdi was impressed with his team’s win.

“I feel good about it,” he said. “I really liked our effort defensively. We missed a couple of defensive responsibilities where we allowed them to get some open threes and obviously allowed them to get some confidence and get momentum in the game, but give our players credit they hung in strong.”

Leading the way for EMU was freshman point guard Bianca Cage. Scoring 16 points on 6-of-13 from the floor and 4-of-9 from three point range, Cage was the first of four Eagles to figure in double digits.

“I feel like Bianca always comes ready to play,” senior center Chelsea Hite said after the game. “She’ll hit threes; that’s what she does, that’s her job.”

Also in double digits were senior center India Hairston and junior guard and forward Natachia Watkins: They each scored 12.

“Everyone has their role; everyone knows their role on the team,” Hite said. “If Tachia’s [Watkins] going down, we just pick her up. She just did a great job today.”

Verdi said the play of Watkins and Hairston was to be expected.

“Those guys do a great job for us,” Verdi said.

Cage also had good things to say about the two.

“I think they’ve both been stepping up a lot lately,” Cage said. “I feel like the whole team has been stepping up.”

Junior guard Desyree Thomas rounded out the Eagle scoring with 11 points, including three in the last five seconds of the game.

The Eagles, ahead by as many as 18 points in the second half, nearly gave the game away.

The Bobcats brought the game to within four points very late in the half. After making one of two free throws, Thomas quickly hustled after an offensive rebound and made a quick jump shot with three
seconds remaining, cementing the seven-point win for the Eagles.

“Desyree’s the hardest working person on this team,” Hite said. “She just plays hard, no matter if we’re down or up. Des is a blue
collar kid, she’s an awesome player.”

Watkins was also impressed with Thomas’s hustle in the final seconds.

“That’s Desyree; that’s what she does,” Watkins said. “All game long. Expect the unexpected from her. She brings energy all game

For the Bobcats, no player scored in double digits. Erin Bailes led the team in scoring with nine points in 32 minutes. Symone Lyles followed behind her, scoring six also in 32 minutes.

After the game, Watkins was very clear about what the win meant to her and the team.

“We definitely needed it,” Watkins said. “Especially after that loss against Akron.”

EMU next faces the University of Buffalo next Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center. The game will be carried live on WEMU 89.1 FM.

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