The Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team fell in their final home game of the season to the Ball State Cardinals, 67-63, Saturday afternoon in Ypsilanti.
The Eagles struggled defensively allowing Ball State to shoot 46 percent from three-point range.
“I felt our kids wanted to win so badly that we took ourselves out of defensive positioning because they were being overly aggressive,” EMU coach Tory Verdi said. “It was a lot of times when we gambled, we paid for it – they moved the ball and they knocked down a three and that’s uncharacteristic of us”.
The Eagles put pressure on Ball State early in the first quarter taking a six-point early lead before the first media timeout. The Cardinals fought back – knocking down four triples to take the lead, 21-19, after the first quarter.
Phillis Webb kept the Eagles in the game knocking down shots, but Moriah Monaco of Ball State would not hold back from three – scoring five of them. Each team traded baskets midway through the first half before a scoring drought over the last three minutes. EMU trailed 35-34 at halftime.
As the second half went underway, the Eagles allowed an 8-0 run – increasing Ball State’s lead 48-37, Verdi called a much needed timeout. Cha Sweeney got her team back in the game attacking the rim for layups. Despite her efforts, the Cardinals offense kept EMU out of reach leading 51-45 entering the final quarter.
The Eagles brought the energy in the final quarter putting their full court pressure on Ball State – forcing turnovers and hitting big shots. Sweeney hit the lead-changing shot for EMU taking a two-point lead with six minutes remaining.
Out of the timeout, the Cardinals would hit two unanswered threes taking the lead back. Ball State’s ball movement around the perimeter kept EMU’s zone out of sync. The Eagles got into their defensive pressure – getting two vital stops in the clutch under a minute remaining.
The Eagles had one more chance to take the game into overtime, but Sweeney could not score the game winning shot in the closing seconds.
“She took it upon herself to be ultra-aggressive offensively and she was able to make plays when we needed them, but as a team we could not hit shots from the perimeter,” Verdi said.
The Eagles struggled to hit open shots going 23-60 – 38 percent from the field and 28 from the three. EMU had an even harder time on the glass, as they were outrebounded 45-31.
Depsite the loss, EMU forced the Cardinals to turn the ball over 22 times. Leading the way for the Eagles was Cha Sweeney with 22 points along with Phillis Webb and Janay Morton collecting 14 points each.
Ball State’s Moriah Monaco had a game-high 28 points including eight threes. The other double-digit scorer for the Cardinals was Nathalie Fontaine with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Eagles will look to bounce back as they go on the road to take on the Broncos of Western Michigan on Wednesday at 7 p.m. EMU won their last outing in double overtime 70-66 over the Broncos.