EMU women’s basketball 84, Western Michigan 59 recap
If you were to just look at the final score, you’d have no idea of how this game really went. EMU trailed by as many as six points in the first half, and took a one-point halftime lead with a layup by Olivia Fouty two seconds before the break. In the second half the Eagles never trailed, but didn’t really put the Broncos away until a 22-4 run that started with 10 minutes left.
Overall, it was a good and well-balanced effort from the Eagles. Tavelyn James had a disappointing 21-point performance (she hit just 7 of 21, missing a whole bunch of layups) but Paige Redditt and Olivia Fouty were right there with 19 and 18 points, respectively, and 11 rebounds each. Natachia Watkins nearly also had a double-double, with 11 points and 9 rebounds. Fouty continues to be the surprise of the year, and while there wasn’t much depth in scoring today (just 7 bench points), the bench players didn’t get many minutes and weren’t really needed. I will say that I was impressed with Sara Stone’s play in the last couple minutes, and I think she’ll be a player to watch next year.
The team as a whole was very aggressive on defense — 17 steals! — which really seemed to wear the Broncos down in the second half. All those steals led to 24 fast-break points for EMU (exactly the final margin). The Eagles also had a significant inside advantage, outrebounding the Broncos 48-35 and scoring 54 inside points to Western Michigan’s 24.
All-in-all, it seems as though the Eagles have come through a disappointing month (3-5 from December 3 through January 5, with the five losses coming by 10 total points and three overtime losses) and emerged as a tougher, more-balanced team that’s a legitimate contender for the MAC championship. The goal from here on out is to finish the regular season as the #1 or #2 MAC team, or at the very least, no worse than #4. Under the new MAC tournament format, remember, the #5-12 teams will have several extra games to play. Remember also, that although the regular-season is still scheduled by divisions, tournament seeding is now a straight 1-12. The good news is that RealTimeRPI has EMU ranked at #98 overall, #2 in the MAC (behind #63 Miami), and that doesn’t take today’s win into account.