EMU women’s basketball loses, but does it matter?
I’m not quite sure what to make of tonight’s women’s basketball loss to Central Michigan, nor am I really sure what this means for the post-season.
In one sense, the loss was irrelevant. Bowling Green beat Kent State 91-48 to lock up the #1 seed, which in turn locked EMU into the #2 seed, win or lose. Some people may even think think it’s bad for a team to take a long winning streak into the post-season, who think that a single late season loss can help focus a team and remind them that, once the tournaments start, one loss is the end of it all.
On the other hand, with this loss, instead of winning the West Division outright and tying with Bowling Green for the MAC regular season championship, which would have been the first for the EMU women’s team, EMU instead finished the regular season tied with Toledo as West Division co-champions, a game behind the MAC regular season champion Falcons. Possibly more importantly, this loss probably knocked the Eagles off the NCAA tournament bubble, and a loss in the MAC tournament will send them straight back to the WNIT.
This was also a bit concerning, coming after the Eagles won so convincingly over Toledo and Ball State in the previous two games, holding both the Rockets and the Cardinals under 20 first-half points. Central Michigan scored 30 points in the first half tonight, and in the second they held EMU to just 15 while scoring 31 themselves.
The Eagles also ran into a bit of foul trouble tonight. Paige Redditt picked up her fourth foul with 10:47 remaining and the game tied at 42. India Hairston subbed in for Redditt, and quickly hit a jumper to give EMU a 2-point lead, but with Redditt, and later Desyree Thomas in foul trouble (Thomas picked up her fourth foul with 4:13 left and fouled out in the final minute), Central Michigan outscored EMU an astonishing 22-2 over the last 10 minutes. EMU didn’t just finish the game slow, they started slow also, falling behind 16-4 just five minutes into the game. Yes, between the first 6 1/2 minutes and the final 10 minutes, the Eagles scored just 6 points.
As far as individual performances, Tavelyn James put up some points, as she always does — 22 points tonight — but no one else had more than 6 for the Eagles. There were plenty of turnovers too, and here James, with 7, was as much at fault as anyone. Desyree Thomas had a particularly disappointing stat line: 0-3 for no points, two assists, one rebound, three turnovers, and the aforementioned five fouls in 36 minutes of play. It would be wrong to put this loss entirely on any one player — there was bad play across the board — and that makes it all the more worrisome.
The Eagles now have a week-and-a-half off to think things over and get ready to play in Cleveland. Their next game will be 2:30 on Friday, March 9, in the MAC tournament semifinal.