MAC Tournament Preview: EMU women’s basketball

Eastern Michigan head coach Tory Verdi doesn't look happy about the poor first-half performance of the Eagles during their game against Central Michigan on 8 March at the Convocation Center. The second half turned around, and EMU won 99-83 in an overtime thriller.

The Eastern Michigan Women’s basketball team will be participating in the Mid-American Conference championship tournament on Monday, March 10 at the EMU Convocation Center.

EMU will be the eighth seed in the tournament and will be competing against the ninth seed Northern Illinois University. If EMU wins this game, it will go to Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena for the second round of the MAC tournament.

EMU split the two regular season matchups with NIU this season, suffering a blowout loss in DeKalb, Ill. and winning a defensive struggle in Ypsilanti.

EMU shot a combined 40-for-116 (34 percent) in the games, 5-for-28 (18 percent) and 23-of-35 (66 percent) from the free-throw line. NIU shot 46-for-105 (44 percent) for the series, 6-of-27 (22 percent) from the deep, and 24-of-32 (75 percent) from the free-throw line.

Star freshman guard Cha Sweeney averaged 12 points per game, much lower than her season average of 16.9 ppg against NIU to lead the Eagles. Sweeney is followed up by senior forward Natachia Watkins and freshman guard Janay Morton with 9.5 points per game each.

NIU is led by Amanda Corral with 18.5 ppg in the series to go with 4.5 rebounds per game. Next for NIU is Natecia Augusta with 11.5 ppg and Jazmine Harris with 10.5 ppg.

EMU’s second leading scorer in the regular season, the aforementioned Morton, has been on a prolonged shooting slump over the last 10 games. Morton has only hit double figures in three of the 10 games and is averaging 8.1 ppg over that stretch down from her season average of 12.8 ppg
Watkins was only EMU’s fourth leading scorer in the regular season with 9.9 ppg and 7.3 RPG, but she is a huge factor in the Eagles’ success. Over the last 10 games, she has scored 11.4 points per game and eight point two rebounds a game.

Another senior important to the team is redshirt-junior Olivia Fouty. Fouty averaged 10.9 ppg and 8.3 rpgon the season. Fouty feels like EMU has some good energy going into the first round of the tournament after the win against Central Michigan University.

“This [the CMU game] is a great momentum game going into the tournament,” Fouty said. “I think that we’ve been playing pretty well lately and it’s all about a game of runs. I’m really excited and we need to get to Cleveland.”

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