EMU Heads to Syracuse in WNIT Third Round

Updated 3/24/2011

Courtesy of EMU Athletics

EAGLES HEADED TO THE DOME FOR THIRD ROUND OF THE WNIT: With the program's first postseason victories under its belt, the Eastern Michigan University women's basketball team remains on the road for the third round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) Thursday, March 24, against Syracuse University. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

Coming off a 63-54 victory over the University of North Carolina Wilmington in the second round of the WNIT, March 21, the Eagles enter the Syracuse game with a mark of 24-12 (10-6 Mid-American Conference). Meanwhile, Syracuse sports a 24-9 (9-7 Big East Conference) mark after knocking out St. Bonaventure with a 63-50 victory, March 21.

The winner of Thursday's game will advance to the quarterfinal round to face the University of Toledo Sunday, March 27. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Savage Arena in Toledo, Ohio.

THE ALL-TIME SERIES: Eastern Michigan and Syracuse have never met on the hardwood prior to Thursday's scheduled contest. In fact, the two schools have a very limited athletic history with each other. In men's basketball, the schools have met once with the Eagles notching a 68-65 win in the finale of the Carrier Classic in Syracuse, N.Y., Dec. 14, 1996. The EMU football team dropped its only meeting with the then Orangemen, 54-24, at the Carrier Dome, Oct. 14, 1995.

THE BROADCAST: The game will be broadcast on WEMU 89.1 FM. Chad Bush and Greg Steiner will have the play-by-play. Live internet audio is available for free on WEMU.org. Live statistics of the game are available through SUAthletics.com.

THE VICTOR EARNS A TRIP TO THE GLASS CITY: With a trip to the "Elite Eight" of the WNIT on the line, the Eagles and the Orange will be vying for a trip to Northwest Ohio and the right to square off against the University of Toledo. The Rockets cruised past the University of Alabama, 74-59, to become the first school to secure a quarterfinal berth. The contest will be played Sunday, March 27, at 2 p.m. inside Savage Arena.

The Rockets are the first Mid-American Conference school to earn a WNIT Quarterfinal appearance since the tournament switched to its current format in 2010. Previously, Western Michigan University made the quarterfinals in 2004 when the WNIT featured only 32 teams. No MAC squad has ever won more than four games in the same postseason tournament.

Should EMU win Thursday, it would mark the first time in WNIT history that two Mid-American Conference member institutions had been pitted against each other.

SOMETHING HAS GOT TO GIVE: Eastern Michigan is 9-4 in road games this season. Meanwhile, Syracuse is a perfect 13-0 in non-conference games at home this year and 19-2 overall on its home court. The Orange are riding a 41-game non-conference winning streak that is split between the Carrier Dome and Manley Field House that dates back to Nov. 25, 2007. SU's last home non-conference setback occurred 1,214 days ago, in a 56-43 loss to Canisius College, Dec. 22, 2006.

WHAT A RALLY ALONG THE COAST!: Despite trailing by 13 points, 47-34, with just 14:26 remaining in the contest, the Eagles used a 29-7 run over the next 13:45 to post a 63-54 win, March 21, over the University of North Carolina-Wilmington in the second round of the WNIT at Trask Coliseum in Wilmington, N.C.

During Eastern's impressive second-half rally, the team shot 13-of-26 from the field (50 percent), while holding UNCW to just 29.2 percent (7-of-24). Conversely, in the first half, EMU wasn't nearly as hot from the floor in the first half, only connecting on 31.4 percent of its shots, while North Carolina-Wilmington was shooting at a 43.3 percent clip.

FIRST POSTSEASON VICTORIES: With the 67-59 victory over Michigan in the first round of the WNIT, March 17, and the 63-54 win at UNC Wilmington, March 21, the Eagles picked up the program's first post-season victories.

NEW STANDARD FOR WINS IN A SEASON: With its 63-54 victory over UNC Wilmington, March 21, EMU eclipsed the program's highest win total for a single season, surpassing the 23 victories during the 2004-05 campaign.

JAMES SETS THE JUNIOR SCORING MARK AT EMU: With 630 points on the season, junior Tavelyn James has obliterated the EMU record for most points in a single season by a junior. The Eastern Michigan record for most points by a junior was 557 by Laurie Byrd in 1980-81.

James already holds the EMU freshman and sophomore scoring records with 426 points during the 2008-09 campaign and 641 during the 2009-10 season.

THE COUNTDOWN TO 1,000: Senior Sydney Huntley has scored 974 points in her career and is 18th all time. There are currently 16 players in the 1,000-point club for EMU women's basketball.

JAMES ON PACE TO SET THE EMU RECORD FOR POINTS IN A SEASON: With her proficiency to score in bunches, Tavelyn James is currently charting a course to set the EMU single-season record for points in a season. With an average of 17.5 points per game, the Detroit native is on pace to total 647 points this season, to break her own mark of 641 in 31 games during the 2009-10 season.
Additionally, at her current pace, James' total would come up just short of the all-time mark among juniors in Mid-American Conference history. Toledo's Kim Knuth holds down the league's current junior standard of 681 points during the 1997-98 campaign.

DOME SWEET DOME: Thursday's game will mark the first time EMU has ever played a women's basketball game inside a dome. The Carrier Dome's 49,250 possible seats are also the largest seating capacity the Eagles have ever played in front of, surpassing the 20,500 seats inside Quicken Loans Arena, the site of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

EMU VERSUS THE BIG EAST: Eastern is 6-16 all-time versus the Providence, R.I. based Big East Conference, having only played eight of the 16 member institutions. EMU is 3-0 versus South Florida, 2-2 against Pittsburgh, 1-4 versus Cincinnati, 0-3 against DePaul, 0-1 versus Louisville, 0-4 against Notre Dame, 0-1 versus Providence and 0-1 against St. John'

TIES WITH SYRACUSE: While there are no distinct ties between the two universities, the EMU Athletic Department does have a very important link with SIDEARM Sports, which is based out of the city of Syracuse. SIDEARM Sports has been the EMU's website designer/provider since the summer of 2005.

UNCHARTED TERRITORY: Prior to this season, the Eagles have never played more than 31 games in a single season. Thursday's game versus Syracuse will mark the 37th time that EMU has taken to the hardwood in 2010-11.

SWEET 16 AND SYRACUSE BACK TOGETHER: While this is the EMU women's basketball team's first "Sweet 16" appearance in a postseason tournament, the EMU men's basketball team has a special place in its heart for Syracuse, N.Y. A veteran group of players proved that chemistry is indeed important on a basketball team as the 1990-91 squad put EMU on the national basketball map with an extended run at the NCAA Championship.

As the MAC Tournament champion, Eastern was automatically in the NCAA field of 64 and was sent to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., for the first round., seeded No. 12. Head Coach Ben Braun's crew came up with two big wins in Syracuse. In the first game, Eastern knocked off No. 5 seed Mississippi State, 76-56, and followed that up with a 71-68 overtime win over No. 13 seed Penn State. Those victories propelled EMU into the "Sweet 16" where the No. 1 seeded Tarheels of North Carolina, turned back a charged-up EMU team, 93-67, at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.