A 6-point overtime loss to Northern Illinois University last Saturday kicked off EMU Women’s basketball conference play on the wrong foot, leaving them 0-1 in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).
The NIU Huskies were also the same team that knocked out the Eagles first round of MAC tournament play last year. Eastern was the only team in the East division of the MAC to lose in the opening week of MAC play last weekend.
Despite the loss, EMU has quite a few chances to make it up. With a winning 7-5 record under their belts, the EMU women’s basketball team will finish out the remaining two months of their season with 18 games of MAC conference play. They will split the time evenly between home and away, and play many conference opponents twice before the tournament begins in early March.
Next up is Akron, the defending champion of the MAC title, which could arguably be EMU’s biggest challenge in the conference. Akron leads the MAC in average points per game (80.4), field goal percentage and assists. It also boasts the best record which is tied at 10-2 with Akron and Ohio.
Other fierce competitors are teams like Ohio University and Bowling Green, which enter MAC play with impressive statistics and records.
But the Eagles themselves look to pose quite a threat this season. Eastern’s 7-5 record places them in the middle of the road, relative to other teams in the conference. EMU boasts the highest numbers in both offensive and defensive rebounds out of anyone else the MAC. In addition to that, they bring back sophomore Cha Sweeney who was named freshman of the year after the MAC tournament last year. Sweeney has developed and served as a leader this season. Sophomore Janay Morton also made the All-Conference All-Freshman team last year.
EMU was the MAC champion in 2012, under previous coach AnneMarie Gilbert. It does not seem a stretch to say that the Eagles have a chance of repeating this success this year under coach Tory Verdi.