Despite an early 28-22 halftime lead, the Eastern Michigan women's basketball team lost its first Mid-American Conference match-up with the University of Akron Zips by a score of 68-65 on Wednesday night in Ypsilanti, MI.
Akron (7-6, 1-1 MAC) took a 46-44 lead halfway through the fourth quarter before Eastern head coach Tori Verdi called timeout with 4:36 remaining. The Eagles (10-3, 1-1 MAC) trailed as many as three points before guard Cha Sweeney would score and tie the game at 52.
The Zips split free throws after an EMU foul, but the Eagles would draw a foul of its own and Phillis Webb proceeded to knock down a pair of free throws to take the lead.
On the next Akron possession Sasha Dailey forced a steal and scored a layup to take a three point lead. Out of another timeout, the Eagles would give up a three pointer to send the game into overtime.
Free throws were key down the stretch, and each team continued to draw fouls in the overtime period before the Zips knocked down a triple to take a 63-59 lead with over two minutes in the game.
Under the final minute Sweeney would cut the lead down to a two point game after a contested three point shot. The Zips split a pair of free throws to increase the lead back to three 68-65.
Sasha Dailey forced the ball down the court to and try to tie the game, but came up short, handing Akron the victory.
EMU coach Tory Verdi had a few things to say about the loss after the game: “There was a lack of self confidence in our ability to shoot the ball. Our shooters were passing up shots, we didn’t penetrate their zone as well as we could’ve, we didn’t move the ball, and the ball died several times in players hand and we didn’t do a good job sharing the ball and creating for each other”.
The Eagles shot better than the Zips, while also holding Akron to 29-percent shooting (23-77) from the field. The Eagles shot 36-percent (27-74) for the game.
The offense for the Zips was their scoring from the free throw line, going 13-for-28 from the line while the Eagles went to the line 14 times, only knocking down five of them.
The Eagles foul trouble led to EMU’s lack of aggression in the game, as well as stability on the offensive side of the ball and coach Verdi took the blame.
"That falls on me and I didn’t do a good job preparing our players,” Verdi said.
The Eagles were led by Cha Sweeney with 20 points, five assists and five rebounds. Phillis Webb added 16 points and led the way with 15 rebounds, while Janay Morton provided 10 points.
EMU did not take care of the ball in the game with 16 turnovers and was out-rebounded by the Zips, 59-52 thanks to DiAndra Gibson who accrued a 13 rebound, nine point performance.
Akron was led by Hannah Plybon who racked up 22 points and Greta Burry with a 17 point and 10 rebound night against Eastern Michigan.
The Eastern Michigan women's basketball team will travel to Northern Illinois University for its first road conference match-up of the season to take on the Huskies. The Huskies are 1-1 so far this season in MAC play.