Season-ending losses are never easy to take, and ones that occur in the final seconds are even worse. The Eastern Michigan Eagles saw their 2013-14 campaign end in bitter fashion on Monday night with a very late 93-91 loss to the Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Flames.
The game was close and exciting throughout. It featured a ton of scoring, including a combined 19 3-pointers, as well as eight ties and eight lead changes. EMU's biggest lead was four points. UIC was able to develop an 11-point lead in the second half, but in general, both teams were within one or two possessions of one another.
After trailing by 11 midway through the second half, Eastern Michigan took the lead 91-88 when Cha Sweeney drilled two 3-pointers in less than 60 seconds. Inside the final minute, UIC's Terri Bender converted a layup to bring the Flames within one point.
Inside the final minute, Shannise Heady missed a pair of free throws for EMU, and the teams then exchanged turnovers. UIC inbounded the ball with 19 seconds left, and as the clock ticked to 7.5 seconds, Ruvanna Campbell tossed in a layup to give the Flames a 92-91 lead. She was fouled on the play and sank the free throw for a two-point edge. Heady had two shots to win the game on the other end, but UIC escaped after neither attempt went down.
The Eagles made 53 percent of their shots in the first half, including seven 3-pointers, but they dropped off significantly (33%) in the second half. Meanwhile, the Flames were even hotter in the first half. They made 22 of their first 36 shots (61%), and that largely carried over to the second half, when they made half of their 38 attempts. EMU did force 25 turnovers, but they were out-rebounded by UIC 48-36.
Janay Morton and Cha Sweeney had fantastic games in the final performances of their freshman seasons. Morton led the Eagles with 25 points, and she added five rebounds and four assists. Sweeney posted 22 points in addition to nine assists, four rebounds and four steals. Jamaica Bucknor contributed 23 points and six rebounds, while Heady added 17 and six. Only two players came off the bench for EMU, and neither scored.
Campbell scored a game-best 27 points and pulled down a WBI record 23 rebounds for UIC. She made 13 of her 17 field goal attempts. Rachel Story also scored 27 for the Flames.
Eastern Michigan ends the season with an 18-14 record. UIC improves to 24-9 overall and will host Fairfield in the WBI semifinals on Thursday. This was the Flames' first road postseason win in school history.