The Eastern Michigan women’s basketball team hosted the Central Michigan Chippewas on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at the Convocation Center for the EMU Martin Luther King Jr. Day Closing Celebration. CMU closed out the 89-82 win with free throws and remained undefeated against the MAC.
Areanna Combs had 19 points with 11 rebounds and Aaliyah Stanley scored 13 for the Eagles (8-9, 3-3). Micaela Kelly led all scorers with 29 points and Gabrielle Bird scored 17 points, shooting 4-for-7 from the three-point line for CMU (13-4, 6-0), who has dominated the MAC so far this season.
“On offense, the game plan was to push the ball in transition. On defense it was to play solid and disciplined and gap up help with Kelly. She’s a good player, she made a lot of tough shots,” Combs said. “Kelly hurt us when she found shooters, they began to hit a lot of trailing threes. We didn’t spring back in transition. If we stayed more disciplined, we could’ve pulled this one off."
EMU had a fast start to the game when they reached its largest lead of 10 in the first quarter. Kiara Johnson scored three straight times to make the game 12-6. Combs made a jumper on the next possession and CMU was not converting on shots at its end. Juanita Agosto drove to the hoop with a made layup and that forced a Chippewas timeout with 4:15 left in the first quarter. Johnson and Agosto both finished with eight points.
CMU came storming back by making six of their next seven shots and tied the game at 22 going into the second quarter. Bird made a three-pointer with 9:38 left for the first Chippewas lead of the game. The teams exchanged baskets for much of the quarter.
Kelly made a driving layup on the final possession of the first half to beat the buzzer and give CMU a 40-38 lead going into the locker room. She ended up with eight first half points along with Molly Davis. Jenna Annecchiarico had seven points for Eastern Michigan at halftime.
The Chippewas went 6-14 from three while the Eagles only shot 1-7. EMU had second chance opportunities with seven offensive rebounds compared to CMU with two. EMU also had 24 of its 38 points in the paint while CMU had just 12.
Combs thought there was room for improvement on her side: “I started the game off a little rocky. I didn’t do too well at the free throw line which I know I have to work on. My teammates definitely kept me up. They got to the rim with ease, making layups and getting stops on defense. It was an up and down game so we just have to learn to stay together through that."
Courtnie Lewis hit a three-pointer late in the third quarter to extend the Eagles lead to 60-56. Autumn Hudson got an open layup minutes later make it 64-59. Kelly answered on the CMU side but Agosto drained a long two-point jumper at the buzzer for a 66-61 lead going into the final quarter. Hudson had eight points.
CMU made its way back from the three-point line. Bird and Kelly hit consecutive threes at the start of the fourth, followed by Stanley making one for EMU. The lead changed twice before Bird knocked down another three-pointer with 5:45 left to make the score 79-73. Kelly converted a layup moments later with a foul on Agosto and CMU took its largest lead of nine points. The Eagles fell into foul trouble and CMU made 10-for-14 from the free throw line to keep the lead and win 89-82.
“Flip the page, we’re on to the next,” Combs said.
EMU will stay home on Saturday, Jan. 25 against Northern Illinois.