Despite star freshman Cha Sweeney scoring a career-high 33, the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team lost on Wednesday night to Western Michigan University 81-72.
Sweeney stayed hot despite the loss, scoring a career-high 33 on 12-of-31 shooting, 4-of-11 from three, and 5-of-7 from the free-throw line. Sweeney also had 6 rebounds.
Sweeney also set a record on the night, becoming the all-time points leader for freshmen in EMU history. Sweeney now has 432 points on the season with at least four games to go in the season.
EMU falls to 15-11 on the season and 5-10 in the Mid-American Conference West. Western improves to 12-14 overall and 8-7 in the MAC West.
Olivia Fouty and Natachia Watkins contributed 12 points apiece as well with seven and five rebounds respectively.
Western Michigan had a trio of players have hot nights from the field.
Marquisha Harris came off the bench to score a team-high 28 points. Miracle Woods also chipped in with 22 points and 13 rebounds and Michelle O’Brien had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Broncos.
The trio combined for 23-of-40 (57.5 percent) shooting from the field, 2-of-4 (50 percent) from long range and 17-for-25 (68 percent) from the free-throw line.
Western,outrebounded Eastern 54-36 and head coach Tory Verdi said after the game that he wasn’t sure that the rebounding was to blame for the loss.
“I just think it was defensively. We struggled from the get-go,” Verdi said. “We dug ourselves a hole.”
Verdi did admire his team’s resilience in the first half and questioned what happened in the second half.
“I was proud of how we responded and got back into the game,” Verdi said. “And then for whatever reason came out again (after halftime) and we were just flat. We weren’t flying around, we weren’t bouncing defensively, we didn’t dictate anything.”
Verdi said the other team being able to throw the ball inside and get easy buckets could have been demoralizing to his team. He said they needed to stay mentally tough and to approach every game with a good mindset.
“We got to come out here like it’s a championship game,” Verdi said. “Every single game from this point out. Every single game throughout the season is a championship game, that’s the way you got to play it. And I just felt like we didn’t have the energy or the effort tonight.”
The other side of the star freshman duo Janay Morton struggled again for the Eagles. Morton had three points on 1-of-7 shooting and 1-of-5 from three-point range. Morton came into the WMU game averaging 13.6 points per game, but over her last three games has only averaged 3.3 PPG.
“She’s just gotta get back to the gym and get shots up and build up more confidence,” Verdi said, “We need her contributions offensively.”
The game was dominated early by Western Michigan. Eastern led early with a 4-2 score, but WMU followed that up with a 20-4 run to take a 14-point lead.
Western led by 13 with 6:55 left in the first half when Eastern would go on a run of its own.
EMU would outscore Western 15-2 over the remainder of the first half to tie it up at 30 apiece.
EMU continued its comeback in the first minute of the second half with an offensive rebound and put-back by Watkins that gave EMU a 32-30 lead.
Western then went on an 18-6 run and led the rest of the way.
EMU fought the rest of the way, even getting within four points, but could never finish the comeback and took the nine-point loss.
Eastern plays again next at the Convocation Center, hosting the Northern Illinois University on March 2.
Verdi remains optimistic about his team’s chances and that this game is not an indicator of future performance and they just need to “do what we do every single day.”
“We just gotta get back at it,” Verdi said. “For whatever reason, we were flat tonight, we weren’t ourselves and we just need some other folks to step in and knock down some shots.”