The Eastern Michigan University women's basketball team continues to protect its home court on Saturday, defeating the Texas Rio Grand Valley University Vaqueros 78-56 at the Convocation Center.
The Eagles (2-0) got off to a good start in the opening minutes of the first quarter going on a 10-2 run. Credit a good defensive effort from its full-court pressure style, forcing early turnovers which broke out a 27-16 lead.
During the first half, the Eagles held the Vaqueros to only 37 percent shooting, impressing coach Tory Verdi.
“We grew defensively this week,” stated Verdi. “We weren’t disciplined in the last game both in the full-court and transition defensively and today we fixed that. We did a good job containing the dribble penetration and make them eat a lot of clock.”
Junior guard Janay Morton led the way for Eagles with 19 points including 10 in the first quarter and a career-high seven steals and five rebounds. Junior guard Cha Sweeney contributed 18 points and senior Sera Ozelci added nine all from the three-point line. Coach Verdi was pleased with Morton’s game.
“I thought she [Morton] was great offensively and defensively,” said Verdi. “She was aggressive attacking the basket, knocking down shots, and she created for herself and everyone else.”
Eagles shot 47 percent in the first (16-34) and 50 percent (5-10) from beyond the arc. They also shot 71 percent (12-17) to the free throw line. The rebound battle was won by the Eagles 53-46 as senior Chanise Baldwin and Sheyna Deans each had seven boards off the bench.
“Rebounding is something we continuously work on,” noted Verdi. We found every single rebounding drill imaginable in the and worked on it, but it’s about having a want to and making a commitment.”
The Eagles struggled offensively in the second half shooting, but continue to hold their own on the defensively end including six second half steals. Eagles held the Vaqueros to 28 percent (18-63) shooting for the game. The key to EMU’s defensive success was stopping their leading scorer Shawnte Goff as she went scoreless for the game.
“She’s their best player and a player of the year candidate for their conference,” said Verdi. “We did a great job of keying on her so every time she caught the ball, she saw three people in front of her, which led her to be frustrated.”
Sophomore Hild Kjartansdottier led the Vaqueros in scoring with 15 points and six rebounds and junior Mary Savoy added nine points and 11 rebounds.
The Eagles will have their first road test of the season as they travel to Lexington to face the Kentucky Wildcats Wednesday afternoon at the Rupp Arena.
“Our first priority will be taking care of the basketball,” said Verdi. “Kentucky can score a lot of points, they’re long, fast, and athletic. We have to do a good job containing and can’t give them one legged lay-ups.”