An up and down week for the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team concluded with a win and two losses in Mid-American Conference play.
After losing to Ball State University on Jan. 9 70-66, things did not get any better on Jan. 12 as Northern Illinois University handed Eastern Michigan University its second straight loss 77-54 at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb, Ill.
The Eagles’ 23-point defeat was the largest of the season.
As a team, EMU shot 18-61 (29.5 percent) from the field compared to NIU going 29-for-60 (48.3 percent).
Janay Morton led the Eagles offense with 13 points.on 4-of-9 shooting, 2-for-6 from three-pont range, and 3-6 at the foul line.
Cha Sweeney and Natachia Watkins added 11 points in the loss.
Amanda Corral scored a game-high 30 on 10-of-16 from the field, two three-point makes, and 8-for-9 from the free-throw line for the Huskies.
EMU dropped to 11-3 and 1-2 in the MAC, while NIU improved to 6-7 and 2-1 in the MAC.
On Jan. 15, freshman guard Cha Sweeney had 20 points last Wednesday night for Eastern Michigan University in its win over Western Michigan University.
But none were bigger than the four free-throws she hit in the last 42 seconds.
“They were important. So was Desyree Thomas’s, as well,” EMU coach Tory Verdi said. “[After] every single one that we kept knocking down, it just became a two-possession game at that point in time.”
After Sweeney’s free-throws extended the lead to seven and halted WMU’s comeback scare, Thomas’s free-throw with 19 seconds remaining clinched the Eagles’ 83-77 win over the Broncos.
The Eagles’ first home conference win of the season ended a two-game losing skid, and moved them up to second-place in the Mid-American Conference West at 2-2 (12-3 overall).
The Broncos dropped to 6-9 (2-2 MAC).
“More importantly, it’s getting back to who we were,” Verdi said. “I’m extremely proud of our effort. We played really hard and when you do that you’re going to win some games.”
With 14 points, redshirt junior forward Olivia Fouty helped lead the EMU offense before a technical foul with 53 seconds left in the second half fouled her out of the game. Nine of her points came in the first half.
“She was really aggressive driving the ball to the basket when she saw that opportunity,” Verdi said.
Fouty got her night started early by hitting the first bucket of the game and drawing a foul, giving the Eagles a 3-0 lead that they would hang on to for the majority of the first half.
WMU’s free-throw shooting kept the Eagles’ first-half lead slim, going 8-for-8 in the first half. The Broncos finished 18-for-20 from the line.
The team also got offensive production from junior forward Michelle O’Brien in the first 20 minutes. Her eight points and six rebounds from the first half would end up being her game total.
O’Brien converted a three-point play after getting fouled on a layup to pull WMU within three with 43 seconds to play in the first half.
The Eagles took a 39-36 lead into the locker room.
Although she was averaging 13.9 points coming into the night, freshman guard Janay Morton was held scoreless in the first half, going 0-for-5. However, the Eagles’ leading scorer made up for it with 11 in the second half.
Her second-half jolt turned out to be important after the Broncos cut a 15-point deficit with 5:59 to play into a three-point game with 53 seconds left.
On Jan. 18, EMU dropped its second straight road game— this time to the University at Buffalo 84-83 in overtime.
Janay Morton led the way for the Eagles with a career-high 34 points and seven three-point makes.
Morton became the first Eagle to make at least seven triples since Tavelyn James hit 10 against Kent State University on Feb. 11, 2012.
Olivia Fouty recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 11 points and 18 rebounds.
Cha Sweeney had an opportunity to win the game at the buzzer, but her shot went in and out as the Bulls escaped with the win.
Follow Derrick Vergolini on Twitter: @Derrickvergo
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter: @Genosportsguy