Eagles’ defense prevails over the Broncos
The Eastern Michigan women’s basketball team forced 22 turnovers – sealing a victory over the Western Michigan University Broncos, 63-52, Wednesday night in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Coming into the rivalry matchup against the Broncos, the leading scorer of their last matchup, Miracle Woods, would not be playing in the contest as she was kicked off the team. EMU coach Tory Verdi had high hopes for his three captains coming into the game.
“It would definitely be a luxury and something we’re hoping that Sweeney, Morton, and Webb come out of whatever slump they’re in and be able to produce,” Verdi said.
EMU’s three captains would not complete the task Verdi had hoped for, however, the Eagle that produced for the team was Chanise Baldwin. Down the stretch of the final quarter, Baldwin stayed aggressive in the paint – collecting rebounds, knocking down free throws and forcing a key jump-ball to give her team the possession. Baldwin finished the game one rebound shy of a double-double with 19 and nine boards.
“We wanted to take advantage of what Baldwin could do for us and I thought she was terrific,” Verdi said. “When we needed some offense, she definitely provided it for us down the stretch.”
The Eagles finished the game forcing four turnovers in the final two minutes of the game while the Broncos scored only one field goal in the final three minutes of the game.
EMU’s defense held Western Michigan to only 36 percent shooting from the field and scored 15 points off of 22 turnovers. The offense for EMU struggled but stayed aggressive by drawing fouls – knocking down 20-of-25 of their free throws. Other scorers for the game were Sweeney and Webb each collecting 10 points respectively.
The Eagles began playing stifling defense on the Broncos as EMU held them to only 2-for-11 to start the game. The Eagles however struggled on offense only going 2-for-13 to end the first quarter, but would lead 12-9.
Sera Ozelci opened the second quarter with a triple, but gave up two layups off of turnovers – the Broncos cut the lead within two. The Eagles would turn on their defensive pressure and force three turnovers – going on an 8-0 run before WMU head coach Shane Clipfell called a needed timeout.
Despite their continuing struggles offensively, EMU managed to increase its lead up to 11 over the Broncos entering the third quarter. The Broncos opened up a 7-0 run to close the gap within four to start the half. EMU's worst quarter in games all season has been the third and they struggled early as their lead was cut to three points before Verdi would call a timeout.
Shooting woes for the Eagles continued – going on a scoring drought for over five minutes before Ozelci hit a triple with two minutes left in the third.
The Eagles look to win their final game of the regular season on the road as they take on the Chippewas of Central Michigan on Saturday at 1 p.m. Verdi is looking forward to their rematch and postseason play.
“We have to go up there and take care of business …. it has been a roller coaster season and now it’s time to get it right so when we go into MAC play, we can make something special happen.”