The Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team lost in the second round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational tournament on Monday to the University of Illinois-Chicago 93-91 in front of 138 fans at the Convocation Center.
The star freshman duo of Janay Morton and Cha Sweeney led the Eagles in the game, scoring 25 and 22 points respectively. The pair were hot from three point land hitting 9-of-20 from deep combined. Morton also added five rebounds and four assists as well.
Despite the loss, EMU coach Tory Verdi talked about how his team played hard and while they made mistakes he was proud of them for coming back from multiple double-digit deficits this season.
“Our kids played extremely hard,” Verdi said. “They fought, we faced adversity going down a little bit and we fought back and we made some plays and we gave up some plays. It was a roller coaster ride tonight, but I’m extremely proud of our young kids who played tonight and I’m so excited about our future.”
Verdi rested his four senior players for the second straight game, but the new starting frontcourt produced well in their big minutes. Jamaica Bucknor scored 23 on 8-of-11 from the field, 3-of-4 from deep and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line. Bucknor also threw in six rebounds and a block.
Shannise Heady also contributed with 17 points on 6-of-17 from the field with a 5-of-9 clip on free-throws. She also had six rebounds.
The Eagles weren’t able to stop the star trio of UIC from going off as well in the game.
Rachel Story and Ruvanna Campbell led UIC in scoring in the game with 27 points apiece. Story shot 12-of-19 from the field, 3-of-9 from three-point range and had six steals for the game. Campbell shot 13-of-17 from the field, 1-of-2 from the line and also pulled down 23 rebounds— including seven offensive boards.
Katie Hannemann rounded out the scoring for UIC with 19 points and five assists.
With 11:27 left in the first half, EMU trailed UIC 23-13.
Eastern countered with a 13-4 run highlighted by a Sweeney fast break layup and back-to-back three pointers by Morton to cut the lead to one point.
EMU eventually took the lead and led by one point with 47 seconds left in the first half after another Morton three pointer— her third of the half, before Campbell made a layup to give UIC the one point lead at halftime.
UIC started the second half strong just like the first and led by as many as 11 points and with 8:28 left in the game they were still up 10.
At this point, EMU went on a 12-2 run with Bucknor scoring five points in the crucial stretch.
EMU and UIC traded leads over the next three minutes and with 1:44 left in the game it was all tied up after a jumper by Story.
On the next possession, Sweeney hit a three-pointer off of a dish from Morton to put Eastern up by three with 1:32 remaining.
UIC went back on offense and Story missed a would-be tying three pointer, but Eastern was unable to corral the ball and it stayed with UIC. Hannemann missed a layup after that, but EMU was unable to get the rebound again and Terri Binder, who had four points and nine assists in the game, grabbed the offensive board and got the put back to cut the lead to one.
UIC then intentionally fouled Heady, who is a career 59 percent shooter from the free-throw line, and missed both free throws.
After the timeout, Campbell got a layup to go and one after a foul from Heady and gave UIC the two-point lead, and the final margin of victory after Heady missed two jumpers with less than five seconds to go.