After being outscored 32-17 in the third quarter, the Eastern Michigan women’s basketball team fell in its Mid-American Conference tournament semifinal, 86-71, against Central Michigan University Friday afternoon in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Eagles (21-11, MAC 10-8) lost both matchups in the regular season versus CMU (22-9, MAC 14-4) and the struggles against Central continued in this game.
"For us defensively, we weren't very disciplined," EMU coach Tory Verdi said. "We missed a lot of assignments defensively as far as we didn't do a very good job of staying down, knowing where non-shooters were, flying and running a non-shooter off the line, and just identifying red light shooters. [We] didn't do a very good job of communicating."
Phillis Webb got the Eagles going early shooting the basketball knocking down three triples early in the first quarter. Janay Morton would follow up with a few baskets of own – as EMU would take a 16-11 lead midway through the opening quarter.
After the first media timeout, the Chippewas pressured EMU to stay on point offensively by going on a run of their own and the Eagles remained leading 24-19 entering the second quarter.
The Eagles defense held CMU scoreless over five minutes – allowing them to go up 31-19. Morton got involved with Webb offensively as EMU brought lead up to a 15 point, 37-22 lead. CMU turned its struggles around cutting the Eagles lead within five thanks to Tinara Moore free throw shooting. EMU went into the locker room with a four-point 41-37 lead.
The Eagles entered the second half hoping to not struggle in the third quarter – their worst in games and EMU would lose their lead in the opening minutes. After a Verdi timeout, Cassie Breen for the Chippewas knocked down her fifth triple of the game to go up as many as seven points.
Sasha Dailey brought some life to her team’s scoring drought, but it was not enough as the Eagles allow 32 points in the third quarter – trailing 69-58 entering the final period.
“We were our own worst enemy," Verdi said. "We imploded defensively specifically late in the second and all of the third quarter”.
In the final period, the Eagles could not find a basket despite the good looks from the field while the Chippewas continued knocking down shots from all cylinders in the game leading by as many as 18 points for EMU. The offense for CMU continued to knock down three point shots to keep her the Eagles out of reach defeating 86-71.
The Eagles allowed 15 triples versus CMU.
Webb lead the Eagles with 20 points but only scored two in the second half while Sweeney added 18 and Morton finished with 12 points. CMU’s Breen finished the game with 24 points all coming from three point range and Moore added 21 points and 11 rebounds.
EMU forced 18 turnovers on the Chippewas, but failed to crash the glass – being outrebounded 41-29. The Eagles allowed CMU to shoot over 50 percent from beyond the arc.
The Eagles will most likely compete in the WNIT for the second straight year following the loss but Verdi also noted the importance of next season with Sweeney and Morton both being seniors.
"Now we have one more year together and we're going to work our tails off, especially this summer, so that we can get back here and not settle for the Semifinals, to get in the finals and win this thing once and for all."