The Eastern Michigan Eagles, top seed in the East Region of the 2014 Women's Basketball Invitational, ousted the #8 seed Evansville Purple Aces with a 78-65 victory in Ypsilanti, Mich. on Thursday night. The game was held at the Convocation Center in front of 131 fans. That brought the total attendance to EMU's two men's and women's home postseason games this week to 504. The men's team drew 373 to their victory over Norfolk State on Tuesday night.
Evansville grabbed the lead immediately in the first half and held onto it for most of the period. However, EMU was able to stay within six points, and down 20-15 just past the midpoint of the half, the Eagles went on a run. Shannise Heady took control and scored seven points, while Phillis Webb added four more as EMU outscored the Purple Aces 15-2 during a seven minute span to take a 30-22 lead. A three by Evansville's Mallory Ladd cut their deficit to four (32-28) at halftime.
EMU scored the first six points of the second half to build their lead to 10 points, but Evansville rallied for a 14-4 run of their own to tie the game at 42. The game was still tied at 47 apiece with 10:12 left when the Eagles rebuilt their lead to nine points with an 11-2 run. Undaunted, Evansville scored 11 straight. The final two were courtesy of Ladd free throws, and the Aces claimed a 59-58 lead with 6:00 to play.
Just over one minute later, the game was tied at 63 as EMU finally made a push to seal the victory. Webb and Heady scored a buckets in quick successsion, and Janay Morton followed with a 3-pointer. Within one minute, EMU had seven straight points and a 70-63 lead. Evansville scored to briefly quiet the momentum, but Jamaica Bucknor immediately drained a three for EMU, and the Aces would not score again.
Neither team shot particularly well in the first half but improved after halftime. In both cases, EMU's touch was better. In the second half, the Eagles connected on 56.3 percent of their shots and four of 10 3-pointers. They out-rebounded Evansville 51-36, and their 17 rebounds on offense led to a 19-6 advantage in second chance points.
All five of EMU's starters scored in double figures and played at least 34 minutes, as Olivia Fouty missed the game and the Eagles used only two bench players. Heady and freshman sensation Cha Sweeney led the way with 19 points apiece, while Morton added 14. Webb and Bucknor both posted double-doubles. Evansville's Ladd led all players with 21 points, and she paced the Aces with nine rebounds.
The Eagles improve to 18-13 overall with the victory. They advance to the quarterfinals of the WBI against Illinois-Chicago. They will host the Flames at the Convocation Center at 7:00 p.m. EST on Monday, March 24th. Evansville ends their season with a 15-16 record.