The Eastern Michigan women's basketball team looked to end the regular season on a high note but ultimately didn't as they fell to Central Michigan University, 78-70, Saturday afternoon in Mount Pleasant.
The Eagles came into the contest looking to seek revenge on CMU after a 66-65 loss in their last matchup. In that game CMU’s freshman Tinara Moore scored 28 points and 15 boards.
EMU coach Tory Verdi's focus was all defense coming into the game.
“We don’t want to give this team the freedom to attack our press or the ability to throw the ball ahead of the floor,” Verdi said. “We’re trying to take away gaps and make them indecisive and if we do that, we’ll be successful.”
The Eagles were all offense as they began the game scoring their first five field goals. The Chippewas would not let up offensively as their three-point shooting kept them in the game. Both teams ended the first quarter shooting over 50 percent as the Eagles led 25-21.
CMU would cool off in the second quarter as the Eagles increased their lead up to seven. Sera Ozelci got her shot going early knocking down three triples early – her seventh game of the season with three or more triples. The Eagles lead at the break, 40-33.
“I thought in the first half it was a battle – both teams were knocking down their jump shots and attacking the basket,” Verdi said.
EMU struggled at the beginning of the third quarter allowing the Chippewas to come back and take the lead, 47-43.
All season the Eagles have struggled in the third quarter and this game was no different. CMU broke the Eagles press countless times – going up as many as seven points, 52-47. The Eagles shot over 50 percent in the first half, but at the end of the third quarter it was only at 39 percent.
“We didn’t do a very good job defensively in regards to our presses. We didn’t take the middle away which allowed them either finish down low or kick out for open jumpers,” Verdi said.
CMU’s junior Jewel Cotton kept the Eagles out of reach with her all-around effort alongside Da’Jourie Turner down the stretch of the final quarter.
The Eagles were cold offensively the first five minutes of the fourth quarter before they scored a field goal. EMU trailed as many as 14 points before they cut the lead within seven under a minute to go before a Phillis Webb jumper. CMU would put up a dagger three pointer that would seal their victory.
The Eagles finished the game shooting 43 percent (29-of-67) from the field and only 9-of-26 from downtown after a hot start in the first half. EMU were out-rebounded, 47-34, and allowed 14 second chance points.
Cha Sweeney led the Eagles with 19 points and six assists while Chanise Baldwin added 14 points and eight boards despite the loss.
CMU turned the ball over against EMU in their first matchup 25 times, but only eight in this ball game. Five CMU players were in double figures with Cotton finishing with 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Reyna Frost finished with 15 points respectively.
The Eagles will begin the Mid-American Conference Tournament as No. six seed as they take on No. 11 seed Kent State Monday night at the Convocation Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.
“Now it’s a new season and we have to bounce back …. The biggest game of the year is Monday night and I ask everyone come out and support,” Verdi said.