The Emory women’s basketball team tasted both the glorious taste of victory and bitter taste of defeat in two tightly contested games.
The Emory women’s basketball team split a pair of games this weekend, falling to Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) Friday Jan. 13 before defeating the University of Chicago (Il.) Sunday Jan. 15. After these two games, Emory’s record comes to 10-4 and 1-2 in University Athletic Association (UAA) play.
Emory initiated its weekend play Friday night as the team took on Washington at the Woodruff Physical Education Center (WoodPEC). The Eagles rode the crowd’s energy to a 23-19 first quarter lead. Hitting a three and swiftly handling the basketball against the opposition, freshman point guard Allison Chernow came flying out of the gates.
The second quarter was slightly more turbulent as Washington inched two points closer to Emory before the conclusion of the half. Both teams traded baskets throughout the quarter.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Washington hit its stroke both offensively and defensively in the third quarter. In a disappointing quarter for Emory, Washington outscored the Eagles 24-10 to take a 64-52 lead. Washington’s lockdown defense forced Emory into poor shots and sloppy turnovers and defensively, Emory could not stop Washington’s offensive onslaught.
Emory coach Christy Thomaskutty reflected on the third quarter difficulties.
“Washington came out really aggressively in the second half, but we missed some early shots and I don’t think we played defense or rebounded the way we needed to,” Thomaskutty said.
Unable to surmount the 12-point Washington lead, Emory continued its offensive struggles in the fourth quarter. Culminating in missed layups and other open looks, the team’s inability to challenge Washington’s lead in the fourth quarter resulted in a 76-65 loss.
Thomaskutty suggested her team’s youth may have played a factor in their inability to recover from early mistakes, which inhibited their confidence during subsequent possessions.
“We hang on to some mistakes and we don’t get ourselves mentally engaged that next possession,” Thomaskutty noted.
With Friday’s loss behind them, Emory looked to tack on their first UAA win of the season Sunday against the University of Chicago at the WoodPEC.
The game began with unpolished play by both teams. Emory’s unforced turnovers and Chicago’s missed shots early in the game made for a sloppy first few minutes. Freshman forward Erin Lindahl helped the Eagles get back on track by hitting two consecutive baskets. Senior guard Shellie Kaniut followed suit, scoring six points in the first quarter. At the end of the first quarter Chicago led 15-14.
Much like the first quarter, neither team possessed a convincing lead in the second. Both teams scored 19 points to give Chicago a narrow 34-33 lead at the half.
Kaniut was instrumental in the second quarter, reviving her team after other guards struggled with ball security. Regarding Kaniut’s prominent play, Thomaskutty noted Kaniut helped her younger teammates.
“Our freshman point guards have not seen that kind of pressure and it was hard for them to adjust,” Thomaskutty said. “Shellie took over running the point and she put the ball in the hands of our best shooters.”
In the third quarter, Chicago gave its team a slightly more comfortable lead. Chicago added five more points to make it a 58-52 game heading into the fourth.
Chicago’s lead grew for the majority of the fourth quarter. With fewer than four minutes left, Chicago enjoyed a 71-63 lead. From this point forward Emory played some of their best basketball to date.
Energized by an enthused WoodPEC, the women began their heroic comeback. They locked down more effectively on defense, and executed on offense. With Chicago unable to respond to any of Emory’s baskets, the Eagles held Chicago scoreless for the rest of the game and tallied 11 unanswered points to win 74-71.
Kaniut shared what she thought was conducive to her team’s comeback.
“Focusing on each possession and doing what we can defensively [helped us win],” Kaniut said. “On defense we made sure that our rotations went well and that we were talking.”
Thomaskutty raved about two of her players, sophomore guard Azzairia Jackson-Sherrod and senior guard Michelle Bevan, both of whom played a vital role in her team’s victory.
“I can’t say enough about Azzairia’s minutes. Coming off the bench she gave us some huge minutes and a couple of rebounds,” Thomaskutty exclaimed.
Thomaskutty highlighted Michelle Bevan’s success as well.
“I told Michelle in shoot around today when you rebound we win,” Thomaskutty said. “She led the team with 11 rebounds today.”
Kaniut spoke about the crowd and their impact in invigorating her team.
“After every shot we knew we had the whole gym behind us,” she said. “That can really give you the extra push towards the end when fatigue starts setting in to start making those extra plays.”
For their next game, the Eagles travel to Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) Friday Jan. 20.