Rough start for CMU women's basketball leads to loss against Eastern Michigan

Graduate student guard Anika Weekes lays a shot in during a game against Eastern Michigan Saturday, Feb. 4 in McGuirk Arena. Weekes added four points for the team.

Eastern Michigan went on an 11-0 run in the first quarter, putting Central Michigan women's basketball too far back and unable to recover as they lost at home 68-54 on Saturday. 

The Chippewas are now 4-16 on the season and 2-7 in Mid-American Conference play. The Eagles are 12-9 overall and 4-6 in the MAC. 

CMU was without freshman Bridget Utberg for the second consecutive game due to a concussion. The Chippewas forward Jahari Smith made her return to the court after missing half the season due to a foot injury. 

"I mean I was playing Bridget 40 minutes so if that says anything about like the impact she has on a game, we need her back, we absolutely need her back," said head coach Heather Oesterle. "For the entire season she's been running the show.

In the first quarter, the Eagles started off on an 11-0 run. It was not until the 2:57 mark when the Chippewas scored their first basket of the game. CMU struggled from the field, shooting 3-for-13 from the field and 1-for-7 from the three-point line in the quarter. 

The Chippewas also had 13 turnovers in the quarter most of them coming from trying to feed Rochelle Norris and Jahari Smith in the paint. The Eagles had the advantage on the inside as they scored eight points in the paint. Freshman Sydney Harris scored five of the first quarters seven points. 

"To start a game with that many turnovers, it was like we couldn't even catch the ball," Oesterle said. "And I'm going to give some leniency to Jahari because she's been out for two and a half months. But to not get any postproduction from three pretty good post players, that's not very good ... that's just not taking care of the basketball, not valuing the basketball."

The Chippewa bench stepped up in the second quarter as 13 of the 15 points scored in the second quarter came from their bench. CMU had problems with foul trouble as it sent the Eagles to the line ten times in the quarter. The Eagles found success in the quarter generating offense from their full-court press forcing six Chippewa turnovers as they took a 30-22 lead into the half. 

The Chippewas shot 10-for-28 (35.7%) from the floor and 2-for-10 (20%) from the three-point line in the first half. The Chippewas outrebounded the Eagles 25-11 in the first half. The Eagles scored 15 points off of the Chippewas 19 turnovers.

Out of the half, the Chippewas came out going on a 6-0 run to cut their deficit down to three points. The Eagles answered right back as sophomore guard Lachelle Austin scored five-straight points to bring their lead back to eight points.  In the last minutes of the quarter, the Eagles went on a 5-1 run to give them a 49-39 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Eagles went on a 6-0 run to give them a 13-point lead to start the final 10 minutes of the game. CMU answered right back with a 7-0 run of its own to cut the deficit down to six points. The back-and-forth battle, however, was not enough as the Chippewas lost 68-54.

EMU scored a total of 29 points off of the Chippewas 29 turnovers. In the loss the Chippewas sent the Eagles to the free throw line 30 times. 

"I mean if you look at the start of the game, the only way they were scoring was off our turnovers and free throws," Oesterle said. "I mean 30 free throws to seven is another story of the game." 

Harris led the Chippewas in scoring finishing with 18 points. Timpe off the bench was their next leading scorer with 11 points and went 3-for-6 from the arc. 

The Chippewas will hit the road to take on Kent State on Wednesday at 7 p.m.