Janay Morton’s hot shooting early and defensive effort helped the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team defeat the University of Toledo Rockets, 59-41, Saturday afternoon in Ypsilanti, Mich.
The Eagles (13-5; MAC 4-3) came into the game pressing the ball on the defensive forcing early turnovers—leading to baskets on the other end.
“We were very disciplined defensively—we really communicated today more than we have all year,” EMU coach Tory Verdi said.
Morton picked up where she left off from the previous game scoring two three-point baskets for the Eagles early in the first quarter. Cha Sweeney scored early driving to the basket scoring while getting for a three-point play taking an 11-4 lead. The Eagles close out the first quarter leading 18-6 after an 8-2 run.
Morton’s good shooting continued in the second quarter scoring eight points as the Eagles would go a 7-0 run increasing the lead 30-10. Toledo Rockets made a 7-0 run of their own cut the deficit, but EMU went into the locker room ahead of the Rockets 33-20.
The beginning of the third quarter was all Toledo (9-9; 4-3 MAC) as they jumped out early offensively going on a 7-0 run—Verdi would call a timeout. After the Rockets cut the lead from double figures, the Eagles would retake a 13-point lead after a 6-0 run.
Despite how many times the Rockets cut into their deficit, EMU refused to fold down the stretch.
“We kept a what’s next attitude – whenever they cut into the lead we contained and making them feel our pressure the entire night,” Verdi said. “We added our pressure and it allowed us to get deflections and turnovers for scores on the other end.”
The Eagles headed into the fourth quarter with nine-point lead, before Morton knocked fifth three-pointer of the game taking a 47-33 lead. EMU wouldn’t look back as the Eagles would secure their fourth win in Mid-American Conference play.
Morton finished the game with 23 points and six steals—while knocking down all six of her free throws in the game.
“Janay’s a scorer by nature – her ability to knockdown those threes got us going and set the tone for us and did nice job attacking the basketball as well,” Verdi said.
The Eagles shot poorly from the field at only 31 percent (19-61), but shot 75 percent from the free throw line. Toledo was held to only 31 percent shooting in the ball game and went to the free throw line five times.
The Eagles committed 20 turnovers in the ball game, but force 23 of their own, including 21 steals. EMU won the battle on the glass 59-41—led by Chanise Baldwin and Morton each with nine rebounds.
Sweeney bounced back from her 2-point performance against Ball State with 14 points for the Eagles. “She’s our catalyst and we need her to get going,” Verdi said. “She’s struggled for us offensively last couple games and got it going for us tonight – we need her to play like she’s the player of the year in the MAC.”
The Eagles will look to win two in a row as they take on Bowling Green University Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. on the road. The Falcons are coming off a 71-49 victory over the Kent State Flashes—who are winless in the MAC so far this year.