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Eastern Michigan's Biggest Night Was Toledo's Worst Ever

1 2 Total
Toledo Rockets (18-8, 11-3 MAC) 18 15
Eastern Michigan Eagles (20-7, 12-2 MAC) 28

It's entirely possible that a handful of people, as I hyped the tar out of this game, gave the ol' MAC West decider a shot, saying "what the hell, it's a slow sports night on." By halftime I would not have blamed them if they had turned to something else or even read a book, because defense isn't sexy except on the scoreboard for the coach and in the record to everyone else.

Holding a team to 50 is great. To 40 is outstanding. To 33 is otherwordly ... and keeping TOLEDO to 33 points? Just take the conference. It's yours

Eastern Michigan's defense simply did not allow the Rockets to get more than a few uncontested shots up. But UT would be so lucky to even get to a point where they could shoot the ball, because on 68 of their possessions, 28 of them resulted in a turnover. That goes half-and-half; half to the Rockets offense for being out of sync, half to EMU for getting them to that point. 16 of the 28 turnovers were listed as steals.

That's not to say EMU played perfect. The Rockets defense was also shadowing Tavelyn James so closely, at times I felt her jersey gave her more room than the opposing guard. The Eagles shot just 39 percent from the floor, only hit one 3-pointer, committed 15 turnovers and could barely get to the free throw line. But it was a purely defensive victory and AnnMarie Gilbert's women demonstrated that.

James scored a mere 20 points, Natachia Watkins added 10 points and five steals and Paige Redditt finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. Desyree Thomas also distributed for nine assists as well as pilfering five balls and nabbing six rebounds.

The only player on the Rockets who had a semblance of a good game was Yolanda Richardson, and you might even make a case for her being the player of the game: 18 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. She did all she could to swat away anything brought into the paint, but nobody ever wins on blocked shots alone.

This puts the "magic number" for EMU at one. A win for them or loss by the Rockets gives EMU the division by virtue of the tiebreakers, as well as a double-bye into the MAC tournament semifinals (these are two separate awards, remember). The loss also gives BGSU a cushion in the standings for the top overall seed; one two more wins for them and they win the MAC regular season title.

And to make this ultimately demoralizing: 33 points is the record for fewest points by a Rockets team, EVER. Their previous low was 38 points against Missouri on December 5, 1992. It also "shatters" their record for fewest points in a MAC game, which was 40 twice — once to Ball State and once to EMU.

Just not their night. But they will get their chance again, and still ought to have the WNIT to fall back on again. That worked out well the last time!

Oh, and: Buffalo 85, Kent State 72 — In the race to not be in last place, UB pulled out an impressive victory against the Golden Flashes, a team struggling by their own merits as well. Brittany Hedderson led with 24 and Nytor Longar added 21. What appeared to be an entirely depleted KSU roster, rotating basically six girls and leaning on three to play 40 minutes, was led by Tamzin Barroilhet who poured in 20 points while Trisha Krewson and Itziar Llobet each shot for 15 points