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The Eastern Echo Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

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Toledo snaps Eastern Michigan women’s hoops winning streak; downs the Eagles, 48-35

Marks sixth-straight loss the Eagles have suffered to Toledo

It was the return of the MAC (Mid-American Conference) champions inside the George Gervin GameAbove Center in Ypsilanti, MI., as the University of Toledo women’s basketball team battled against the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team. 

Heading into the matchup, EMU interim head coach Ke’Sha Blanton was searching for her fourth consecutive win at the helm after starting 3-0, but the Rockets had other plans as they walked away with a 48-35 win, ending EMU’s three-game winning streak. 

“I’m just making sure our players have a great time, and the more they buy in, the easier it is,” Blanton said. “My goal by the time all of this is over is to just instill values into them that they can take with them for life.” 

Junior center Tayra Eke (Madrid, Spain) would start the game off hot for the Eagles, scoring six early points as they found themselves tied with the Rockets, 6-6. The Rockets would finish the first quarter on an 8-2 run to start the second quarter with a 14-8 advantage. 

The Eagles would hold their own through the second quarter as they cut the Rockets’ lead to 18-13 with 3:12 to play in the first half. The rest of the half would be the Rockets as they extended their lead to close out the first half with a 21-14 advantage. 

The Rockets finished the first half winning the shooting battle as they landed 42.9% of their field goals to EMU’s 20%. Toledo also won the rebounding battle, as they out-rebounded the Eagles, 19-14. 

Toledo would continue to add to their lead in the third quarter as the Rockets would garner a 29-21 advantage, until a three-pointer from sophomore point guard Olivia Smith (Fort Wayne, Ind.) would cut the Eagles’ deficit, to 24-29. 

To end the third quarter, the Rockets would go on a 9-2 run highlighted by a three-pointer from Toledo’s Sophia Wiard (Muskegon, MI.) to give Toledo a 38-26 lead heading into the fourth quarter. 

The fourth quarter would be all Toledo as their resilience to give up their lead led them to a win over the Eagles, 48-35. 

The Rockets would finish the game with a 39% shooting clip from the field (19-48) while the Eagles struggled to put the ball into the bucket, shooting just 24% from the field (12–50). 

Eke would lead the Eagles offensively as she finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. 

“Tayra has stepped into a whole different mode. She’s unbelievably confident, she wants the ball in her hands, and she’s not a selfish player,” Blanton said. “We have total confidence in her and the whole team is feeding off of her.” 

Toledo’s Wiard would finish with 12 points and five assists, while Hannah Noveroske (Michigan City, Ind.) added 12 points and five rebounds off the bench. 

EMU has now dropped six-straight matchups against the Rockets. 

“I thought defensively we did what we needed to do, offensively we had one of our worst shooting nights of the year,” Blanton said. “If we get shots to fall we can compete with anybody in the league, we just need to do better offensively and take better shots.”  

The Eagles will now shift their focus to Bowling Green State University as they will face the Falcons on Wednesday, Jan. 10, in Bowling Green, Ohio. That matchup is scheduled for tipoff at 7 p.m. and will be streamed live on ESPN+.