Women's basketball comeback falls just short against EMU
Sophomore guard Molly Davis dribbled twice on the right sideline and let a potential game-tying shot fly from just beyond half court.
Her shot sailed just to the left of the basket on the West end of McGuirk Arena. With it, the Chippewas' third straight loss. Eastern Michigan took down CMU 70-67 on Wednesday in Mid-American Conference women's basketball. With the win, the Eagles (8-5, 5-3 MAC) have won four straight games.
However, the struggles for the Chippewas (7-5, 5-3 MAC) started long before Davis' game-tying attempt.
CMU was outscored 24-15 in the first quarter and tied the game at 33 in the second before EMU went on a 11-3 run to close the first half. The Chippewas then held EMU to just 26 in the final two quarters.
Head coach Heather Oesterle said the strong play needs to start from the beginning of the game.
"We have to get back to playing Central Michigan basketball," Oesterle said. "What that means is we have balance on the offensive end. ... We need to get an inside game going because that's what makes us so dangerous, the fact we can go inside outside."
Oesterle said she wants to see more fire from her team, so she is considering making changes at the start of games.
"I'm rethinking changing the (starting) lineup," Oesterle said. "I don't know if this lineup has gotten too comfortable, they started every game for us last year and have started every game this year. ... There needs to be more fire from our team and maybe changing the lineup will help."
Keys to the game
Both teams struggled shooting from outside. CMU made just four triples and shot 15.4 percent from outside and the Eagles shot 27.3 percent from beyond the arc.
While both teams struggled from 3-point range, CMU especially struggled from the field. The Chippewas shot 33.9 percent (21-62) while EMU shot 41.5 percent (27-65).
Oesterle said the team needs to utilize more ball reversals and hopes the defense breaks down for an inside opportunity because the outside shot is not falling for the Chippewas.
"We're forcing to try to do it right now," Oesterle said. " ... When you're shooting with confidence, you take quick shots -- which we usually like to do -- it's just not falling for us."
Davis put up 18 of her 20 points in the first half but struggled on the offensive end in the second half. She exited the game for a brief moment with an apparent shoulder injury early in the third quarter but returned and played the rest of the game.
Senior guard Micaela Kelly also struggled throughout Wednesday's game, but she found a way to score 15 points.
In all, four Chippewas scored in double figures. Along with Davis and Kelly, senior forward Kyra Bussell scored 12 and senior forward Maddy Watters scored 11.
The Eagles had three scorers in double figures led by Areanna Combs, who put up 23. Corrione Cardwell and Ce'Nara Skanes put up 20 and 19, respectively.
As time was ticking toward the end of the third quarter, CMU was looking to draw closer to the Eagles. However, the tenacious EMU defense forced a blocked shot on Davis and a shot clock violation. EMU then hit another triple to extend its lead to begin the fourth.
Within the last three minutes of the game, CMU switched to its full-court press and forced the Eagles into four straight turnovers.
Oesterle said she wants to utilize the press more but only if she can get more balance and more minutes from her bench.
"When it gets to the point of, 'Oh, crap, we need to get the ball back,' that press has been really good, Oesterle said. "We can't get to that point. That urgency needs to start from the beginning."
CMU had an opportunity to tie the game with just over five seconds to play when Bussell was at the line for a pair of free throws. She missed the first and intentionally missed the second to try and secure the rebound.
EMU was able to convert its free throw opportunity with 3.9 to play before Davis' half-court heave.
The Chippewas hit the road for two games, starting at 2 p.m. Saturday at Akron. CMU defeated the Zips earlier this season with a commanding 83-58 victory on Jan. 6 in McGuirk Arena.