Eastern Michigan 77, Michigan 64
Shame on me. In my eighteen years of following Eastern Michigan basketball, I had never been to a women’s game. I have followed the women’s team from afar, mostly in box scores and recaps, and I would certainly wish them well. I remember watching them (on ESPN) put up a serious fight against Boston College in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. But never in person. Until today. In the words of The Terminator, I’ll be back.
Today’s game against Michigan was a rematch of a tightly contested NIT game last year. From the opening tip, there was a level of intensity on the court which made the game exceedingly enjoyable to watch. You could tell these two teams knew each other well, but there was also a sense of respect.
I did get another feeling as the game went on, that not only did Eastern have the best player on the court, Senior guard Tavelyn James, but they also have the better team. Behind some serious three-point sniping from James, the Eagles burst out to a fourteen point lead early in the game—and while Michigan refused to quit, the Eagles took the best punches they could throw and kept the Wolverines at wing’s length. The upshot was a 77-64 victory for the deserving Eagles.
Along with James, who poured in 38 points (none bigger than a late three to end all hope of a Michigan comeback), Sophomore forward Olivia Fouty scored 19 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and played smart, stingy defense to keep the Eagles on top. Fouty has all the qualities of a leader, not the least of which is leading by example with smart defensive play and overall toughness. She had putback after putback on the offensive glass, dominating the interior during the crucial final ten minutes.
Eastern improved to 6-3 with today’s win, and if they can play like they did today, I have no doubt they will be serious contenders for the MAC title. With players like Fouty, Paige Reddit, and guards Desyree Thomas and Natachia Watkins, the talent is there for another impressive season.
But not enough can be said about Tavelyn James. Watching her rain in threes brought to mind one of my favorite three point shooters in EMU lore, Brian Tolbert. And like Tolbert, James has a complete offensive arsenal. I can say unequivocally that she is my favorite basketball player with the last name of “James.”
As for me, I’ll be back at the Convo to support these Eagles, and I highly recommend any fan of EMU athletics to do the same. (On a side note, I like how they are called the Eagles, and not the Lady Eagles, or the Eaglettes, or something truly horrid like the She-gles.) If they can keep the intensity and effort at the level they played at today, another banner like the one they hung today might be in order. But this time, hopefully, it will say NCAA Tournament.