With the help of career-high scoring for junior Desyree Thomas and senior Chelsea Hite, the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team defeated the Northern Illinois Huskies, 54-45, in Dekalb, Ill., Thursday.
Thomas led the way for the Eagles (8-19, 6-8 MAC), scoring 17 on 8-of-14 shooting from the field and grabbing five rebounds in 36 minutes.
“Dez [Thomas] has come a long way, and has become our catalyst [on the floor],” EMU coach Tory Verdi said. “Our team goes as far as Desyree takes us, and we ask her to do a lot. She responds and leaves everything out on the court.”
Hite had 13 off the bench on 5-of-6 from the field, and went 3-of-4 from the foul line to go with five rebounds.
“Chelsea is a kid who did not play until this season, and if you look at her growth and development as a player, along with the fact of having her career-high in points, is a testament to her as a player,” Verdi said. “She comes into practice every day and works hard, and I am glad to see it pay off.”
Senior Taylor Bird had eight on 3-of-9 from the field and 2-of-4 from three-point range.
Junior Sara Stone scored five points and grabbed eight rebounds in 29 minutes.
For the Huskies (7-20, 2-12 MAC), sophomore Amanda Corral played all 40 minutes and scored 14 on 6-of-16 from the field to go along with eight rebounds.
Sophomore Natecia Augusta scored 12 on 5-of-12 from the field to go along with eight rebounds.
As a team, EMU turned the ball over eight times, while Northern Illinois gave up the ball 16 times.
The Eagles shot 22-of-57 from the field, and the Huskies went 18-of-57.
The Eagles’ first points of the game came on Hairston’s jump shot.
The first 10 minutes favored the Huskies, but the Eagles were still hanging around, only letting the deficit go as many as three points.
In the final 9:37 of first half, the Eagles outscored the Huskies 16-5 to go into the locker-room up 24-17.
In the second half, Northern Illinois managed to tie the game at 38 with 5:57 left, but EMU pulled away on a 16-7 run to secure the victory.
The 45 points given up by the Eagles ties the least amount given up on the season. The other game was at Kent State on Jan. 24.
Desyree Thomas has scored in double figures in six of her last seven games.
The Eagles play their final road game of the regular season against the University of Toledo Rockets on Sunday at John F. Savage Arena in Toledo.
The Rockets are 25-2 and have the best record in the MAC (13-1).
Toledo defeated Western Michigan, 75-42, Thursday in Kalamazoo, Mich.
EMU is looking for a split in the season series against Toledo.
Verdi talked about ways of stopping the Rockets’ attack.
“We have to play for 40 minutes and limit [Toledo] to one shot [possession],” Verdi said. “We can not afford to implode on both sides of the ball like we did in the last meeting.”
On Jan. 16, the Rockets defeated the Eagles, 56-40, at the Convocation Center.
Junior Natachia Watkins led all scorers with 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while junior Andola Dortch scored 14 for the Rockets.
A player to watch for Toledo is redshirt senior Naama Shafir, who was named the MAC West Division Player Of The Week on Feb. 25 for the third time this season.
Shafir leads the team in scoring at 12.9 points per game.
Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.
You can listen to the game live on WEMU 89.1 FM.
Game results can be found exclusively online at www.easternecho.com/sports.
Follow me on Twitter @EasternEchoGeno.
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