Basketball

The Emory Eagles prevailed over Texas Lutheran University 82-69 March 3 in the opening round of the NCAA DIII men’s basketball tournament in Abilene, Texas before falling to regional host Hardin-Simmons University (Texas) 85-95 in the second round March 4.

Emory’s first opponent, the Texas Lutheran Bulldogs (19-10), boasted an impressive backcourt with three seniors: guard Jordan Kouremetis, forward Zach Behr and guard Sterling Holmes.

“We knew there were three guys that could really go on their team,” Emory sophomore guard Gebereal Baitey said. “[Behr] found a way to get going, but we did such a good job [defending] the other two that it didn’t really matter.”

With a close score from the start, the X-factor in the first half was none other than freshman guard Nick Tupanjanin. With four three-pointers in the first half alone, Tupanjanin gave Emory the burst it needed, helping the team jump ahead to a 35-19 lead with four minutes remaining.  

“[Tupanjanin] got great looks, knocked them in and really gave us a lift,” Head Coach Jason Zimmerman said. “Those shots kept us in the lead going into halftime.”

Jumpers from Texas’ junior forward Harris Jowell and Behr, however, helped the Bulldogs close the gap to just six points at halftime, 39-33. The Bulldogs dug down in the second half, gradually trimming down the Eagles’ lead. Clinging to a one-point lead with five minutes to play, Emory needed someone to step-up offensively and junior forward Adam Gigax delivered, taking control of the court.

The Emory forward netted 12 points in the final five minutes, including a run of nine straight in the span of two minutes, showing why he’s the UAA’s leading scorer this season. Combined with a strong Emory defensive front that allowed only six points from the Bulldogs in the last five minutes, the Eagles secured a 82-69 victory and a ticket to the second round.

Hardin-Simmons awaited Emory in the next round. Coming off of a 109-103 offensive explosion in their first round against LaGrange College (Ga.), Hardin-Simmons (24-6) was led by one of  the best individual players Emory faced this season: senior forward Nathaniel Jack.

“[Jack] could jump, not only high, but with very little gather, and he got a lot of second chance points, rebounds and tip-ins because of that,” Baitey said. “They had so many other guards on the floor we had to put a big on him, which was a bit of a tough match up for us.”

The game’s pace was quick, with each team shooting well out of the gate. For the Eagles, senior forward Austin DaGue provided a lift with 15 points and seven rebounds in the first half. He finished the game with a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Baitey, like DaGue, also stepped up throughout the season. The sophomore guard led the team in minutes played, 32, in the game against Texas Lutheran and followed that with one of his best offensive performances against Hardin-Simmons.

“It wasn’t so much that I was controlling the floor in the way that [junior guard] Whit Rapp does, but it’s the energy that I bring on both the offensive and defensive ends,” Baitey said. “That’s something that I’ve always taken pride in.”

Emory played well in the first half, but Hardin-Simmons was better. Led by senior guard Christian O’Neal’s 17 points, the Cowboys countered every time the Eagles made a move. Shooting 53 percent from the field, Hardin-Simmons took a 50-41 lead into the break.

Emory played evenly against their opponent in the second half, but failed to close the gap. Strong performances from Baitey (17 points) and senior forward Jim Gordon (20 points, seven rebounds) weren’t enough to hinder the Cowboys, who benefitted from outstanding performances from Jack (26 points, 15 rebounds) and senior guard Dashun Dixon (20 points).

In many of ways, Emory lived and died by the three this season. Unfortunately, it was the latter March 4. Shooting only 22 percent from three-point range against Hardin Simmons, Emory couldn’t quite find its touch behind the arc. Combined with 34 made free-throws for the Cowboys, the Eagles lost the chance to play in what would have been their fourth straight strip to the Sweet 16, falling 85-95.

“We had our second worst shooting night from three on the year,” Zimmerman said. “[It] led to a tough night for us.”

With the season officially at its end, Emory seniors guard Jonathan Coles, guard Jonathan Terry, DaGue and Gordon have suited up in their uniforms for the last time. They leave a four-year legacy that boasts 80 wins, three Sweet 16 appearances, two UAA Championships and kept the Eagles’ run of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances alive. Now at five in a row, Emory’s run is the second longest for an UAA team, after New York University’s seven straight appearances.

“There is a lot to be proud of with these seniors, and I’ve been blessed to coach them,” Zimmerman said. “I am really looking forward to continuing to build the program and keep it at the level that these guys have got it to.”

Hawks guard Tim Hardaway, Jr.'s 36 points kept Atlanta close despite a record-setting evening from the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers.
Hawks guard Tim Hardaway, Jr.’s 36 points kept Atlanta close despite the Cavaliers’ record-setting performance. / Kevin Kilgour, Sports Editor

Recent history between the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers has not been kind to Atlanta. In both 2015 and 2016, the Cavaliers swept the Hawks in the Eastern Conference playoffs, ousting any hopes of postseason glory. The most recent slap from Cleveland came they stripped Atlanta of guard Kyle Korver in a trade this past January.

“I think at points we’ve rubbed them wrong,” Cleveland guard Iman Shumpert said before the game. “No matter what you make of their team, they are always a bunch of guys that are going to come out there and compete, so we are gonna have our hands full.”

To say the Cavaliers rubbed the Hawks wrong at times may be the biggest understatement of 2017. Over the past few years, the Hawks fielded some of the best teams in franchise history. Yet time and time again, the Cavaliers crushed any hopes of postseason glory.

“When you play a team in the playoffs, you see them every other day for two weeks,” Hawks forward Kent Bazemore said prior to the matchup. “You get tired of them. There is mutual respect between both teams, but it’s always a war.”

When both teams prepared to take the floor at Philip’s Arena in Friday night’s nationally televised matchup, it was safe to assume something special was about to happen.

Rivalry aside, Friday night was a special evening for the Hawks. Dressed in their blue and green throwback jerseys, Atlanta honored the contributions of former player and NBA legend Pete Maravich by holding a ceremony at halftime, featuring speeches from Hawks legends Dikembe Mutombo and Dominique Wilkins. The atmosphere was electric as the banner dropped and Maravich’s No. 44 jersey was officially retired.

Despite the evening’s festivities, the Cavaliers were more than willing to spoil the party. With 13 points in the first quarter alone, Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving led an explosive offense to 39 points and a six-point lead.

Maravich's number 44 banner in Philip's Arena.
Maravich’s No. 44 banner. / Kevin Kilgour, Sports Editor

In a night full of special moments, another came when Korver entered the game with 3:17 to play in the first quarter, this time in a Cavaliers jersey. His first game back in Atlanta since the Jan. 8 trade, Korver was welcomed back to Philips Arena with a strong chorus of cheers. At the quarter break, the Hawks paid tribute to their former all-star with a montage of Korver’s most memorable moments in Atlanta.

“There were a lot of emotions during the game,” Korver said. “It was good to be back home.”

Cleveland would continue to dominate in the second, piling on another 38 points for a 77-60 lead at halftime. With strong three-point shooters at nearly every position, the Cleveland brutalized the Hawks from behind the arc. Often switching Hawks center Dwight Howard onto Cavaliers’ forwards Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, Cleveland’s smaller, quicker lineup made it easy to find open looks from three.

The start of the third quarter saw more of the same as Cleveland continued to lay it on, stretching their lead to 25 points. In one sequence, Cleveland forward LeBron James hit two consecutive three-pointers, including a fadeaway off one foot from the corner that made it seem as though anything and everything that the Cavaliers put up was going to fall in.

Mutombo, Wilkins, and representatives from Maravich's family all spoke at the ceremony.
Family and teammates were present to celebrate. / Kevin Kilgour, Sports Editor

Even if the crowd had given up, Atlanta’s players did not. With 36 points on 65 percent shooting, guard Tim Hardaway Jr. offered the Hawks a lift they desperately needed, helping his team make some deep cuts into a seemingly insurmountable lead.

“All the pressure is off when you are down that much,” Hardaway, Jr. said. “My teammates did a great job of finding me. I forced a couple here and there and they got on me about it, but kept telling me to be aggressive.”

With the two teams neck and neck, 124-123 Cleveland, it was Korver who put the nail in the coffin, draining a three with a little over a minute remaining to put Cleveland ahead for good.

“Kyle being Kyle, he knocked it down when the game mattered most and that’s why he is one of the best,” Hardaway, Jr. said.

Making an NBA record 25 three-pointers in a single game, the Cavaliers were simply too good. Irving led the way with 43 points for the Cavaliers, while James added on 38 of his own to help the his team to a 135-130 victory Friday.

“To some degree, it feels like you are trading twos for threes,” Atlanta Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said. “You come in trying to take away the three-point line, but it’s a lot harder the way that James and Irving create and draw attention.”

Despite the loss, the Hawks remain No. 5 in the East, while the No. 1 Cavaliers stretch their lead in the East over the No. 2 Boston Celtics.

Emory freshman forward Erin Lindahl puts up a shot in the Eagles' final home game of the season. Photo courtesy Mathew Hammond.
Emory freshman forward Erin Lindahl puts up a shot in the Eagles’ final home game of the season. Photo courtesy Mathew Hammond/Staff.

The Emory women’s basketball team closed their 2016-17 season with a tremendous win against the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Yellowjackets 73-57 Saturday, Feb. 25. Star senior point guard Shellie Kaniut closed her career with a bang, leading the Eagles in scoring with 20 points.

Kaniut was one of three seniors to play their final game at the WoodPEC. Senior guard Fran Sweeney and senior guard/forward Michelle Bevan also played their final game in front of the Emory faithful.

Head Coach Christy Thomaskutty praised her seniors for their hard work and contributions to the basketball program.

“[Kaniut, Sweeney and Bevan] are three special young women,” Thomaskutty said. “Each one of them has given their heart and soul to this program and university.”

Outscoring the Yellowjackets 21-8, Emory scorched Rochester in the first quarter. The Eagles established a 13-point lead, concluding the quarter with a 9-0 run. Kaniut was strong out of the gate, posting 10 points.

In light of Kaniut’s brilliant performance, the point guard  affirmed that it was her ability to make her teammates better that was most important.

“The best part of it is when you’re playing well and making others better,” Kaniut said. “It wasn’t just me having a big game, but I thought a lot of our younger players stepped up. Everyone rose to the occasion.”

Rochester battled back, cutting Emory’s lead down to two points before the end of the half. The Yellowjackets stepped up on defense to limit Emory to eight points in the quarter.

After seeing their lead nearly vanish, the Eagles were poised to distance themselves from Rochester. Emory bounced back and started off the third with six unanswered points. Rochester attempted to chip away at Emory’s lead, but the Eagles remained strong.

Thomaskutty recapped how her team was able to respond to a challenging second quarter and control play again in the third.

“We had a little bit of a letdown and foul trouble in the second,” Thomaskutty said. “However, in the third quarter we just kept on plugging away. Our seniors and younger players both propelled us.”

With a 47-39 lead entering their final quarter, the Eagles fought hard for victory. Emory’s execution was magnificent, growing their lead until the final buzzer; the Eagles’ offense shined as they scored 26 points to Rochester’s 18. Riding the offensive momentum, Emory finished with a 73-57 win.

Thomaskutty reflected on what made her team effective in their preparation and matchup against Rochester.

“Every player had a good couple of days of practice leading up to the game,” Thomaskutty said. “In all three phases: offense, defense and rebounding, we battled during every possession.”

Kaniut considered the victory a great way for the seniors to end their careers and for the underclassmen to establish a benchmark moving forward.

“It was an awesome way to wrap my own and other seniors’ careers,” Kaniut said. “It also sets up the team really well heading into next season.”

Emory’s victory advanced the squad to a 6-8 UAA record and 15-10 record overall. The Eagles finished  fifth in the UAA, an improvement from last season’s seventh place finish.

Senior forward Austin DaGue blocks a shot from Rochester senior guard Sam Borst-Smith in Emory's 63-62 victory. Hague contributed an impressive 22 points on the afternoon. Photo courtesy Nafimul Huda/Senior Staff.
Senior forward Austin DaGue blocks a shot from Rochester senior guard Sam Borst-Smith in Emory’s 63-62 victory. Hague contributed an impressive 22 points on the afternoon. Photo courtesy Nafimul Huda/Senior Staff.

Saturday’s home win against the Yellowjackets of Rochester University (N.Y.) provided the exclamation point on the end of a four game win streak to close out the regular season. The Eagles took down the No. 2 team in the UAA and honored the accomplishments of four senior athletes. Emory finished No. 3 in the UAA (9-5) with an 18-7 overall record and received a bid to  compete in the NCAA D-III men’s basketball tournament next weekend.

Prior to the game, Emory’s four seniors took the floor in recognition of their accomplishments and contributions to the basketball program. The seniors, guard Jonathan Coles, forward Austin DaGue, forward Jim Gordon and guard Jonathan Terry, helped the Eagles to 79 wins, two UAA titles, two Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight since the start of their freshman season in the Fall of 2013.

The seniors and junior forward Adam Gigax started the game. Whether it was due to the jitters from the senior celebration or the intensity of each team’s defense, turnovers plagued both teams early on. After the first 10 minutes of play, the two teams combined for only 20 points.

Coles acknowledged that playing on senior day brings its own unique challenges.

“You try not to think about it too much and try to treat it like any other game, but obviously this is the last time that we are going to play here, so it has a little bit of a different feel,” Coles said.

The Eagles were the first to strike. Gordon, DaGue and junior forward Donald Avant helped the team to a 20-11 lead with five minutes left to play in the first. However, this brought the Yellowjacket offense to life and they poured in 20 points during the final five minutes of the half to give Rochester a slim 31-30 lead.

The game assumed a more consistent rhythm in the second half; the rust from the first disappeared as each team embraced the flow of the game.

The biggest change in the second was the Eagles’ attention to post play. After an easy feed from sophomore guard Gebereal Baitey to DaGue resulted in a lay-in at the rim, the Eagles continued to feed DaGue down low. With junior forward Christopher Avant out with an injury, DaGue proved to be a critical asset, finishing with 22 points and six rebounds on 70 percent shooting from the field.

“DaGue had one of the best games of his career,” Head Coach Jason Zimmerman said. “He has been playing better and better the past two weeks and he was really special today.”

Neither team shot particularly well (35 percent for Rochester and 36 percent for Emory), resulting in a physical, low scoring affair. A three from Rochester senior guard Sam Borst-Smith gave the Yellowjackets their largest lead of the game at 54-48 with just under nine minutes to play; however, the Eagles closed the gap thanks to five straight points from DaGue.

Tied at 60 with 90 seconds remaining, junior guard Whit Rapp drained a clutch three that gave the Eagles a 63-60 advantage. The Yellowjackets quickly answered, cutting the lead to one. After an Emory miss on the following possession, Rochester had an opportunity to take the lead.

One name that was not mentioned often at the scorer’s table Saturday was that of Gigax, who had one of his worst outings of the season. The UAA leader in points per game, Gigax provided only two points Friday night. However, in a play that would determine the outcome of the game, Gigax came up with a critical defensive stop.

Receiving a pass on a strong cut to the rim, Rochester sophomore forward Andrew Lundstrom seemed to have a clear path to the rim and an easy lay-in that likely would have won the game for the Yellowjackets. However, the junior recovered to stuff Lundstrom at the rim, denying Rochester the lead and ultimately securing a 63-62 victory for Emory.

“[Playing on senior day] motivated us more, got us riled up,” Terry said. “This was our last time at home for sure, so we wanted to go out and make the best of it. We had a really good crowd here and that gave us a lot of energy.”

After the game, Zimmerman was pleased that the seniors could savor one final home victory.

“I’m really happy for the seniors to win their last game at home,” Zimmerman said. “Hopefully we get to keep playing.”

Zimmerman’s hopes were fulfilled Monday when Emory received the NCAA D-III tournament bid. In the first round, the Eagles will take on the Bulldogs of Texas Lutheran University (19-9) Friday at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Tex. The winner will advance to the second round for a matchup Saturday against the winner of Hardin-Simmons University (Tex.) (22-6) v. LaGrange College (Ga.) (18-10).

Freshman forward Erin Lindahl drives in the Eagles' game against Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) Sunday.
Freshman forward Erin Lindahl drives in the Eagles’ game against Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) Sunday. Photo Courtesy Gabrielle Davis / Photo Staff.


The Emory women’s basketball team recorded its first victory in over two weeks and snapped a four-game losing streak in its first game of the weekend. The Eagles’  victory Friday, Feb. 17, against the Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) Spartans was followed by a loss Sunday, Feb. 19, to the Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) Tartans. The Eagles currently are 5-8 in UAA play and 14-10 overall.

On the tails of a lengthy losing streak, the Eagles rediscovered their winning ways against Case Western. Five different players scored for Emory, helping the team start the game with a 14-9 advantage.

Case Western battled the Eagles hard in the second quarter, inching one point closer to Emory at the half. Sophomore center Ashley Oldshue was Emory’s most reliable offensive player in the quarter, scoring 10 points. Oldshue’s contributions helped Emory carry a 35-31 lead into half-time.

Emory maintained the upper hand, leading by as much as 13 points with less than three minutes in the third. However, the Eagles  52-39 lead was slashed to a 52-47 advantage following a late run by Case Western to end the quarter.

Head Coach Christy Thomaskutty noted that her team played with a lot of energy in the second half.

“I thought in the second we channeled our energy,” Thomaskutty said. “By doing so we were able to play a really good game overall against a tough match-up for us in Case Western.”

Despite the challenging end to the third quarter, the Eagles glided to a victory in the fourth. Emory amassed a comfortable lead against Case Western and gave the Spartans no prospect of a comeback. The Eagles outscored Case Western 27-20 in the final quarter and walked away with a 79-67 win.

Emory’s leading scorer and rebounder in the game was Oldshue, who racked up 21 points and totalled eight boards. She was joined by senior guard Shellie Kaniut, who scored 16 points and freshman guard Allison Chernow, who led the team with nine assists.

Oldshue spoke about how consistency gave Emory an upper hand in the game and how it boosted the team’s morale.

“We came out against Case pretty consistent, a lot more consistent than we have been in a while,” Oldshue exclaimed. “The win was a big boost to team morale, considering that we are so close to ending the year and we want to end really strong.”

Thomaskutty indicated that the team’s guard play and ball movement were two major factors in the victory.

“[Case Western] was bigger than us, so we definitely wanted to give a lot of ball pressure to help match-up with their bigger guards,” Thomaskutty said. “Offensively, we moved the ball really well, and anytime we have had over 18 assists in a game we have done really well.”

Unfortunately, Emory ended with a much worse result in its second game of the weekend, defeated by Carnegie Mellon in a lopsided 82-60 Tartan victory.

Emory came out of the locker room strong to begin action Sunday, outscoring Carnegie Mellon 22-21 in a tightly contested first quarter. With two three-pointers, senior guard Fran Sweeney was instrumental in contributing to Emory’s offensive attack in the first.

The Eagles lost traction in the second quarter as the Tartans jumped ahead to a 39-33 lead before the half. Carnegie Mellon outscored Emory by an 18-11 margin in the quarter.

Down by six, Emory had a manageable deficit at the beginning of the second half. However, the third quarter turned disastrous for the Eagles  as they were outscored 32-10. Emory yielded 18 points to Carnegie Mellon’s star center/forward, junior Lisa Murphy. Her 18 points helped Carnegie Mellon carry a 28-point lead into the fourth.

Thomaskutty explained that the team defense was unable to find any remedy for Carnegie’s offense in the third quarter.

“Our defense let us down and [Carnegie] got almost anything that they wanted,” Thomaskutty said. “We were supposed to double the low post and we were slow getting there.”

Although Emory outscored Carnegie Mellon 17-11 in the fourth quarter, Carnegie Mellon’s lead proved insurmountable. The Tartans comfortably handled the Eagles and won the game 82-60.

Oldshue once again led Emory in scoring and rebounding with 15 points and seven rebounds. In a dominant performance, the Tartan’s Murphy scored 35 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. The Eagles could not find a way to stop the Carnegie Mellon junior in the paint, and allowed the Tartans easy buckets and costly second-chance opportunities.

Oldshue considered Carnegie’s post presence to be one of the greatest  challenges Emory faced.

“A team like Carnegie is a challenge defensively because they have a good post presence,” Oldshue said. “You can’t help too far off their guards either because they can beat you as well.”

Emory will conclude its regular season at home Saturday, Feb. 25, against the University of Rochester (N.Y.).

 

Senior forward Jim 'the commissioner' Gordon lines up a three in the Eagles' game Sunday against Carnegie Mellon. Gordon combined for 55 points over the two weekend games. Photo courtesy of Matthew Hammond/Photo Staff.
Senior forward Jim ‘the commissioner’ Gordon lines up a three in the Eagles’ game Sunday against Carnegie Mellon. Gordon combined for 55 points over the two weekend games. Photo courtesy of Matthew Hammond/Photo Staff.

 

Returning to the WoodPEC after an arduous hiatus from UAA road play, the Eagles capitalized by pocketing close wins over Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) Friday and Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) Sunday. The complete weekend brings the Eagles’ win streak to three and improves their record to 17-7 for  the year. This jumps them back ahead of Carnegie Mellon to the No. 3 spot in UAA standings.

Starting Friday, the Eagles did something they haven’t done often this season: take an early lead. With a three-point make from senior forward Jim Gordon on the team’s first possession, Emory took control of the game early and held a slim lead through the game’s initial stages.

The tide soon shifted as Case Western gradually pulled ahead to a nine-point lead at the half. Case Western senior guard Javier Alvarez and freshman forward Sam Hansen were  averaging 10.3 ppg and 6.8 ppg respectively before the game, but each inflicted significant damage with 11 points apiece in the first half.

“They scored on 11 of 14 [possessions] down the stretch of the first half and we can’t let that happen,” Head Coach Jason Zimmerman said. “We call that a flood. We just can’t allow that to happen.”

However, in what is becoming a regular occurrence for this Eagles team, Gordon played with an energy and an intensity that kept the Eagles within striking distance despite a difficult shooting night for most of the squad. With 16 points in the first half and another 10 in the second, Jim ‘the commissioner’ Gordon was the hero Emory needed Friday night, but maybe not the hero the team deserved.

Down 75-84 with fewer than five minutes remaining in regulation, buckets from junior forward Adam Gigax and sophomore guard Gebereal Baitey helped the Eagles claw back to an 85-all tie at the buzzer.

In overtime, the Eagles took control, taking advantage of an overly-active officiating crew by driving the lane and putting themselves on to the free throw line. Seven points at the charity stripe helped push the Eagles ahead of Case Western for a scrappy 99-92 victory.

Sunday, the Eagles provided the WoodPEC crowd with one of the team’s most complete performances on the year. Emory and Carnegie Mellon traded punches through the first half, but Emory’s balanced scoring attack built a steady lead. With an impressive put-back from sophomore guard Spencer Osborne at the halftime buzzer, the Eagles brought a 39-31 advantage into the locker room.

Refusing to let up in the second half, the Eagles pounded away against Carnegie Mellon’s defense. Another strong showing from Gordon (25 points), Baitey (11 points) and junior forward Christopher Avant (18 points) kept the Carnegie Mellon Tartans at bay.

“I didn’t foul,” Avant explained. “In the past, fouling has kind of taken me out of my game. When I am not fouling I can play my game and be strong inside and score.

In what may have been the game’s turning point, Zimmerman received a technical foul after he expressed significant displeasure towards the officials’ treatment of an altercation between Gordon and Tartan senior forward Jack Serbin, sending Serbin to the free-throw and cutting the Eagle lead to five points with 11 minutes to play.

From that point forward, it was all Emory. The Eagles outscored the Tartans 29-19 throughout the remainder of the game, securing a solid 88-73 home win.

“[The technical foul] definitely energized me,” Gordon said. “It was a result of my play – the guy hit me – so I was definitely a little more hungry after that.”

The weekend’s results largely mirrored what happened all season, with the Eagles struggling to get results in their Friday night matchups before returning Sunday with much better performances.

“It has been weird this season,” Gordon said. “We have come out a little choppy on Friday nights, but Sunday we are good about gathering energy. Whoever wants it more on Sunday usually wins.”

Zimmerman reiterated the sentiment.

“Our Friday night games just have not been very attractive. They have to be better … but we don’t have any more, so we don’t have to be better,” Zimmerman quipped.

Emory will conclude regular season play when they welcome Rochester University (N.Y.) (21-3) to the WoodPEC next Saturday at noon. The Eagles’ final game offers a chance at redemption following Rochester’s lopsided victory in Emory’s UAA opener back on Jan. 7.

The Emory women’s basketball team lost two games over the weekend, stringing together a season-worst four-game losing streak. Emory fell to the Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) Bears Friday and the University of Chicago (Ill.) Maroons Sunday. After the pair of losses, the Eagles are now 13-9 overall and 4-7 in University Athletic Association (UAA) competition.

Emory looked to upset No. 9 Washington on the road in a fierce offensive game Friday. The Eagles fell behind early, trailing Washington by six points by the end of the first quarter. While Emory played toe to toe with the Bears in the early stages of the first, Washington eventually pulled away from Emory and established a 19-13 lead.

Having to play catch-up, the Eagles began to chip away at Washington’s lead in the second. The squad outscored Washington in the quarter 18-16. Senior guard Shellie Kaniut was instrumental in securing the team’s success in the quarter, marking 12 points. Kaniut also hit two of two attempts from behind the three-point line.

Down 35-31 to start the second half, Emory inched within one point of Washington two times before the final two minutes of the quarter. The dynamic offensive duo of Kaniut and sophomore center Ashley Oldshue helped Emory challenge Washington’s lead as the two combined for 15 points in the third quarter.

Trailing by only one point with just over two minutes left to play in the third, Emory fell further behind Washington. The Bears went on a 8-2 run to end the quarter and handed Emory a seven point deficit to make up for in the fourth.

Despite the team’s best efforts, the Eagles could never quite tie the game in the final quarter. Washington held off the Eagles and continued to capitalize offensively until the final buzzer. The final score was 82-78, Washington.

Oldshue considered Washington to be a challenging match-up for Emory due to their coaching and stature.

“Washington has a really well-coached offense,” Oldshue said. “In terms of size they are also a hard match-up for us.”

Head Coach Christy Thomaskutty considered Friday’s game to be one of her team’s best performances despite the final result.

“Friday night was one of our best games of the year,” Thomaskutty said. “We battled through adversity, withstood every run that Washington made; I thought we executed incredibly well and we got contributions from many different players.”

After a tough loss Friday, the Eagles looked to salvage the weekend with a win against Chicago Sunday. However, the Eagles were tasked with defeating the Maroons without their star player and leader Kaniut, due to a lingering knee injury. Unfortunately, Emory missed her presence as the team suffered their most lopsided defeat of the season.

Speaking about playing without Kaniut, Oldshue said her team lost an important player, but they were confident that other players would step up.

“Shellie has been a huge presence on our team all year and the past couple of games,” Oldshue said. “However, we have a lot of other talent that could step up offensively.”

Additionally, Oldshue made note of the new responsibilities of her peers and in particular, senior guard Fran Sweeney, who stepped up as the team’s number one at the point.

“Fran Sweeney was playing our one, which she hasn’t done all year,” Oldshue said. “We were definitely out of our comfort zone, but everyone was working really hard knowing Shellie wasn’t there.”

Emory started off the game relatively strong, claiming an eight point lead early on in the first quarter. Freshman guard Allison Chernow and Oldshue stepped up in the absence of Kaniut to give their team an early scoring lead. Despite their efforts, Chicago began to click on offense towards the end of the quarter and edged a 18-17 lead.

The Eagles struggled to answer Chicago in the second quarter as the team’s deficit grew by eight points. Emory yielded 21 points to Chicago and found themselves down by nine points at the half.

Emory came out of the locker room flat in the second half and trailed by as many as 20 points in the third quarter. Oldshue led an offensive push towards the end of the quarter to keep the game in reach. Ultimately the Eagles fell behind 61-49 headed into the fourth.

Chicago glided to a victory in the final quarter as the Eagles failed to muster any semblance of a comeback. The Maroons’ lead continued to grow until the final buzzer and the Eagles were finally slain. Chicago ended the game with a 77-56 victory over Emory.

Thomaskutty was impressed with her team’s performance in the first half, but thought the team ran out of gas in the second.

“We came out and battled really well in the first half,” Thomaskutty said. “It could have been a lack of depth, but I don’t think we had a lot left in the tank in the second half.”

Emory looks to redeem themselves on their home court Friday, Feb. 17, as they host the Carnegie Mellon University (Penn.) Tartans.

In their final road weekend of the season, the Eagles were ousted by UAA rival Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) Friday, 94-65, before bouncing back against the University of Chicago Sunday, 99-88. The win at Chicago brought an end to a painful three game-slide, but could not prevent Emory (15-7) from dropping a spot in the UAA standings from No. 3 to No. 4.

If this season taught the Eagles anything, it is that there is no rest for the weary in the UAA. Following a tough weekend that included losses to UAA bottom-feeders New York University and Brandeis University (Mass.), the Eagles were tasked with dethroning league leader WashU, a team that had yet to lose in UAA competition (9-0). Emory played a tight game at home against the WashU Bears earlier this year, losing 71-63 Jan. 13, and would need an even stronger performance Friday to tie the season-series.

Through the first half of play, the Eagles looked poised to do just that. Despite trailing by as many as 12 points in the first, Emory would not allow the Bears to pull away. A balanced scoring attack from the Eagles kept WashU within reach despite the Bears’ strong shooting numbers in the first (42 percent from the field, 46 percent from three). Senior forward Austin DaGue was a huge help off the bench, contributing nine points in the first half on the way to a season-high 16 points in the game, helping the Eagles close out the first half down 39-41.

“St. Louis is my hometown, so it was a bit more of an emotional game for me,” DaGue said. “I know my coaches have confidence in me. I know my teammates have confidence in me. I had a good game Friday night and I had a lot of fans there, which was fun.”

However, dethroning the Bears would take much more than one half. WashU woke from hibernation at the start of the second half, outscoring the Eagles 53-26 to close out the game. Five players scored in double figures for WashU, including junior forward Andrew Sanders who scored a team-high 21 points on 53 percent shooting. More importantly, the Bears completely shut down the UAA points-per-game leader, Emory junior forward Adam Gigax (18.9 ppg), who left Friday’s game with only four points to his name.

“I was really proud of the way that we competed in the first half,” Head Coach Jason Zimmerman said. “We put ourself in a position to win the game … but [that second half] was probably the best half of basketball [WashU] played this year.”

The game’s most lopsided stat came from team rebounds. Emory held a 21-19 advantage on the boards in the first half but were completely obliterated in the second. Bullied on the boards 9-28, the Eagles earned only three offensive rebounds in the final 20 minutes.

“It comes down to getting defensive stops and rebounds, which we did a good job of in the first half, but it got away from us in the second and that’s why they were able to pull away,” DaGue said.

Hoping to recover from a demoralizing 29-point defeat Friday, the Eagles delivered their best shooting performance of the season Sunday at the expense of the UChicago Maroons. Emory shot 62 percent from the field, 56 percent from three and 89 percent from the free throw line on the way to 99 points and a hard-fought road victory.

“Our passing and catching were better, our cutting was better, and when that happens you get better shots,” Zimmerman said.

The biggest change from Friday? Adam Gigax. After being completely taken out of the game at WashU, Gigax responded Sunday with the best performance of his career. Scoring 36 points on 72 percent shooting from the field (including five three-pointers and a perfect 5-5 line at the charity stripe), Gigax was a force to be reckoned with.

“The best thing about Gigax is that he doesn’t think — he is a natural scorer,” DaGue said. “When he is scoring like that and we are getting stops defensively, we are a tough team to beat.”

However, the efforts of UChicago senior forward Waller Perez and junior guard Jake Fenlon kept the Eagles at bay, the two combining for 42 points on the afternoon. Maybe Perez was still upset about the Emory student section chanting his name during the Maroons’ last visit to the Woodruff Physical Education Center (WoodPEC) earlier this year. Either way, he and Fenlon gave the Eagles everything they could handle.

Tied at 45 early in the second half, consecutive threes from Gigax and junior forward Jim Gordon gave Emory some much-needed breathing room, providing the Eagles with a lead they would not relinquish on the way to a 99-88 win.

Traveling days are over for the Eagles, who have the luxury of playing their final three games of the regular season in the comfort of the WoodPEC. The first of these games will feature the visiting Spartans of Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) Friday, Feb. 17.

The Emory women’s basketball failed to capitalize on leads in two games on the road this weekend and suffered the fate of defeat against the Brandeis University (Mass.) Judges and the New York University Violets. After the two losses, the Eagles are 13-7 overall and 4-5 in conference play.

Initiating their weekend play against Brandeis, Friday, Feb. 3, the Eagles were determined to replicate last week’s win against the Judges. Emory failed to establish a lead in the first quarter and fell behind early. Despite sophomore center Ashley Oldshue’s six points in the quarter, the Eagles trailed 17-13.

Fairing better in the second, Emory cut down Brandeis’ lead to three points. Freshman guard Allison Chernow led the offense in the quarter, marking six points from two three-point baskets.

Recapping the first half, Head Coach Christy Thomaskutty noted that the game was played hard and foul trouble hurt the team.

“It was definitely a physical game,” Thomaskutty said. “I thought we started really slow and then got back in it. We were in foul trouble and had three starters on the bench with fouls in the first half.”

Down 30-27 to start the second half, Emory turned the game around in the third quarter, grabbing the lead. Emory’s offense started to click as the Eagles outscored Brandeis 20-13. A tandem of freshmen, Chernow and forward Erin Lindahl, put up five points apiece. The Eagles also out-rebounded the Judges 12-5 in the third.

With a lead heading into the fourth quarter, Brandeis quickly snatched it out of the Eagles’ talons, going on a 9-0 run to reclaim the lead. The two teams handed the lead back and forth until the final possession, when the game was tied at 59. Brandeis took advantage of its final possession and converted on a last-second lay-up to win the game.

Senior guard Shellie Kaniut attributed the blown lead to lack of execution and losing the battle on the boards.

“Brandeis was able to take a lead because of our rebounding and we did not capitalize on turnovers,” Kaniut said. “We let them get too many second-chance points.”

Thomaskutty also thought the team’s rebounding struggles led to their defeat.

“We did not play consistently and well,” Thomaskutty said. “I thought Friday night’s game we were beaten on the glass. We have to finish plays and box out to get the rebound.”

After the devastating loss against Brandeis, the Eagles anticipated a victory for the second consecutive week against NYU. Emory jumped out to an early lead, outscoring NYU 23-20 in the first quarter. The Eagles’ lead was as high as eight points in the quarter, but to the squad’s dismay NYU cut it down to only three points by the time the quarter ended.

NYU completely had their way with Emory in the second quarter, outscoring the Eagles 22-10. The Eagles’ lead quickly vanished and the Violets rose to 42-33 at the half. Emory’s offense and defense both struggled in the quarter and created a deficit.

The third quarter yielded even poorer results for Emory. NYU scored at will and continued to amass a commanding 16-point lead for Emory to overcome in the fourth quarter.

Emory charged back in the final quarter, pulling within two points of NYU. Kaniut suggested that the team’s stronger defense brought them closer to their opponents in the fourth.

“We finally started to play some defense,” Kaniut said. “I think we eventually started digging in and paying attention to personnel and figuring out who was hot.”

Down only two points with less than one minute to go, Emory ran out of gas. NYU shut Emory out in the final minute and held on for a 67-61 win.

Thomaskutty thought the team’s defense led to their loss.

“The defense really let us down,” Thomaskutty said. “We just didn’t play personnel correctly and we let their best shooter be wide-open at times. I feel like we didn’t dig in on the defensive end.”

Kaniut and Oldshue were Emory’s two most reliable players in the game. Together they scored 46 of Emory’s 61 points. Kaniut had a massive offensive performance of 27 points, including three baskets from beyond the arc.

Emory will play their next game on the road against Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) Friday, Feb. 10.