Eastern Michigan 59, Toledo 57
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Paige Redditt’s layup with 1:09 left gave the No. 2 seed Eastern Michigan Eagles their first lead of the game as the Eagles sneaked by the No. 3 seed Toledo Rockets 59-57 in the second semifinal game of the First Energy MAC Women’s Basketball Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena.
The contest was a rematch of last year’s semifinal game where Eastern Michigan advanced to the title game before falling to Bowling Green. The first 37 minutes of the game looked as if Toledo would get sweet revenge, but the resilient Eagles would not let that happen.
Haylie Linn got Toledo off to a fast start hitting two three-point shots for an early 8-2 lead. Despite only shooting 25% from the floor, the Eagles were able to keep the Rockets from running away with the first half by scoring 13 points off 16 Toledo turnovers as the Rockets headed into the break with a 28-23 lead.
Toledo senior guard Courtney Ingersoll, the MAC’s leader in 3 point field goal percentage, kept the Rockets in the lead in the second half with 3 straight three pointers. The Eagles countered with three baskets of their own on three consecutive offensive possessions, but the lead remained 45-39 with 11:45 remaining in the ballgame. Toledo increased the lead up to ten, but then EMU started to make their run.
With the score at 57-51, MAC Player of the Year Tavelyn James brought the Eagles life with 28 seconds of brilliant basketball. The Eagles’ senior drained a three, stole the ball in the backcourt, and drew a foul on the fast break. Converting on both free throws cut the lead to one, but James wasn’t finished. The Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award winner made another steal to give her team the ball back with 1:37 to go. On the ensuing possession, Redditt put Eastern Michigan ahead for good with a basket and a free throw on back-to-back possessions. Toledo was unable to score, but Olivia Fouty missed the front end of a one-and-one with 3 seconds left; however, Toledo was unable to get a final shot off, and the Eagles celebrated another trip to the MAC Championship Game.
James and Natachia Watkins led the Eagles (22-8) with 19 points each in the victory while Yolanda Richardson scored 15 points for Toledo, who ends the season at 21-9.
Eastern Michigan will face Central Michigan in tomorrow's MAC Women's Basketball title game. Tip-off will be at 1 pm Saturday with the championship game being televised on SportsTime Ohio.