Basketball

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.

Junior forward Adam Gigax responded with 36 points at UChicago after a meager 4 points against WashU. Photo courtesy Emory Athletics.

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.

Emory freshman guard Nick Tupanjanin shields away his defender. Tupanjanin and the Eagles dropped to 14-6 this past weekend. Photo courtesy of Emory Athletics.

Emory’s five-game win streak came to a sudden halt this past weekend. The Eagles dropped two critical road games, losing Friday at Brandeis University (Mass.) 59-67 before a painful defeat at the hands of New York University Sunday, 79-80. The Eagles were vying for a season sweep of the two UAA opponents after handling both Brandeis and NYU at home the week prior. However, Emory failed to reproduce those results on the road. Now 14-6 on the season and 5-4 in UAA play, the Eagles remain No. 3 in the UAA, but find themselves four games behind first-place Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) (9-0).

Traveling first to Waltham, Mass., Emory had reason to be wary of a Brandeis upset. It took a double-digit comeback and overtime just a week before for the Eagles to overcome the Brandeis Judges. With this game in Massachusetts, the Judges were sure to show up with a chip on their shoulder.

Jumping out to a 12-4 lead, the Judges delivered as expected. Senior guard Tim Reale was a big part of Brandeis’ early burst, scoring seven of the Judges’ first 10 points.

“Reale is a guy that draws a lot of fouls,” junior forward Christopher Avant said. “We have had a difficult time this year guarding the ball, but it just comes down to … being prepared to guard their personnel and knowing our assignments.”  

With only six points to their name halfway through the first half, offensive woes plagued the Eagles Friday. A team that typically thrives behind the arc, shots simply weren’t falling. Emory finished the game with only nine makes on 32 attempts from three-point territory.

“We tend to fall in love with the three, and that was our biggest downfall this past weekend,” sophomore guard Gebereal Baitey said. “We didn’t make the game as easy for us as it could have been.”

Climbing back into the game in the second half, the Eagles found themselves down by one, 56-57, with less than three minutes left. However, a 10-3 Judges run to close out the game crushed Emory’s hopes, with Brandeis claiming the 67-59 victory. Brandeis junior forward Jordan Cooper led all scorers with 28 points.

Hoping for a different result Sunday in New York, the Eagles came together for a much stronger offensive performance. Junior forwards Adam Gigax and Avant, senior forward Jim Gordon and sophomore Baitey all scored in double figures, while junior guard Whit Rapp contributed an impressive 11 assists.

The New York Violets responded with strong performances of their own. Junior guard Ross Udine was outstanding, putting in 26 points for the Violets.

With the game winding down and the score tied at 77, a clutch three from senior guard Joe Timmes gave the Violets the 80-77 lead. A last second effort from three for Gordon would have won the game for the Eagles had it sunk, but it missed the mark, giving the Violets the 80-79 win.

“It looked like we were going to win it up until the last minute or so,” Baitey said. “When Timmes hit that shot it was really deflating for us.”

The grind continues this next weekend when the Eagles travel for a meeting with UAA leader Washington University in St. Louis Friday before heading to Illinois Sunday for a game against  the University of Chicago.

Needing two wins at home in order to keep pace with UAA league leaders Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) (7-0) and Rochester University (N.Y.) (6-1), the Eagles delivered. Starting with a win Friday over Brandeis University (Mass.), 94-85, the Eagles completed the weekend sweep Sunday by handing New York University its fifth straight loss in UAA play, 84-75. The two wins boost Emory’s record to 14-4 for the year, with a 5-2 record in UAA play.

Taking on the visiting Brandeis Judges in their weekend opener Friday, the Eagles looked as if this game would be business as usual. Up 27-19 with seven minutes to go in the first half, Emory looked poised to maintain the lead for the remainder of the half.

Looks can be deceiving. In the final seven minutes of the half, the Judges would go on a 24-4 run, spurred by a stretch of 14 straight missed Emory field goals. The run pushed the Judges to a commanding 12-point lead at the half, 43-31.

“They were playing to their strengths while we were making mistakes,” Head Coach Jason Zimmerman said. “We were playing okay early, but then there was a stretch where we didn’t guard and we didn’t hit shots.”

Stretching their lead to 17 in the second half, the Judges held a 10-point lead with only five minutes remaining. Senior guards Tim Reale and Jack Fay were a big part of the Judges’ success, each putting up 19 points while shooting a combined 61 percent from the field.

But no lead in this game was safe. Battling back, the tide turned Emory’s way after junior forward Adam Gigax knocked down a long three-pointer from what seemed like the Peavine parking lot, bringing the Eagles within three (75-78) with under three minutes left. A minute later, two free throws from Gigax brought Emory to 79-78.

“Coach [Zimmerman] always tells us that in basketball, you are never out,” senior forward Jim Gordon said. “I knew we had it in us. I’m going to take some words from Joel Embiid, but ‘trust the process’. We came together and got the win.”

With the Eagles holding a three-point lead, Fay made a critical three-point basket with only 13 seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime tied at 81.

“When we came back and tied it, we said it was over,” Gordon said. “They had their chance, but now we had the opportunity to take it [ourselves].”

In overtime it was all Emory. Helped by buckets from Gordon, Rapp and Gigax, the Eagles outscored the Judges 13-4 to clinch the 94-85 victory.

In similar fashion Sunday against NYU, the Eagles jumped out to an early lead. However, New York’s 8-0 run to close out the final two minutes of the half trimmed an 11-point lead down to three, with Emory clinging to a 42-39 advantage.

The teams were neck-and-neck through the second half, with Emory attempting to break away on several occasions only to be denied by New York. The battle between Rapp and NYU junior guard Ross Udine took center stage, with Udine pouring in 21 points and 5 assists, while Rapp set an Emory single-game record with 16 assists that afternoon.

In the end, the performances of Rapp, Gigax (27 points, 10 rebounds) and Gordon (18 points, 7 rebounds) propelled the Eagles over a young New York team, 84-75.

A sense of deja vu may be inevitable next weekend when the Eagles repeat their schedule, facing off once again against Brandeis on Friday before a rematch with New York Sunday in the Big Apple.

The Emory women’s basketball team emerged victorious in a pair of UAA conference games at the WoodPEC last weekend.

Emory bested the Brandeis University (Mass.) Judges Friday and capped the weekend off with a tightly contested match-up against the New York University Violets Sunday. The Eagles’ two victories advanced the squad to 13-5 overall and 4-3 in conference play. Emory is currently ranked fifth in the UAA.

The first game started off even as the Eagles matched Brandeis’s total of 17 points. Sophomore center Ashley Oldshue possessed the hot hand out of the locker room, tallying eight points in the first.

Distancing themselves from their opponent, the Eagles accumulated a six-point lead against Brandeis in the second quarter. Emory only allowed eight points from the Judges’ offense, and Oldshue racked up four more points in the quarter to tally 12 points in the half.

Resembling the defensive play of the second quarter, the Eagles and Judges scored 11 and nine points, respectively, in the third. Senior guard Shellie Kaniut was the Eagles’ most reliable scorer in the quarter, contributing seven of the 11 points.

Head Coach Christy Thomaskutty commented on Brandeis’s style of play and how her team responded to dictate game play.

“Brandeis wants to grind it out, play a physical game and slow down the pace a little bit,” Thomaskutty said. “When we picked the tempo up [the game] was definitely in our favor.”

Determined to outplay Brandeis to the final buzzer, Emory extended its lead in the fourth. Outscoring Brandeis 19-16, the Eagles marked a 61-50 victory against the Judges. Though Brandeis pulled within one point of Emory’s lead in the fourth, the squad quickly responded, building a much more comfortable lead.

Oldshue and Kaniut were two of Emory’s key players in the victory. Leading the team with 19 points, Oldshue was a dominant low-post presence for the Eagles. Playing aggressively on the boards and benefiting the offense, Kaniut grabbed eight rebounds and scored 16 points in the game.

Seeking to replicate their win, the Eagles battled NYU in a game that was competitive to the final buzzer. Although NYU was winless coming into conference play Sunday, the Violets were determined to redeem themselves from their previous failures.

Both teams found an offensive rhythm in the first quarter. Emory barely edged NYU in play, outscoring the Violets 27-25. The Eagles garnered baskets from a plethora of different players and rode the strong offensive presence to a two-point lead after one quarter.

Flipping the script on Emory in the second, NYU dominated the Eagles to close out the first half. The Violets enjoyed a 12-2 run in the latter half of the second quarter. Unable to respond to NYU’s offense, the Eagles fell behind 44-39 at halftime.

Down by five, Emory attempted to erase NYU’s lead in the third quarter. Despite their efforts, NYU kept the play even and matched Emory’s third quarter total of 16 points. Oldshue hit a major jump shot with only three seconds left in the quarter to keep her team within five points of the Violets.

With little more than four minutes to go in the fourth, Emory faced a six point deficit. However a three-point basket by senior guard Fran Sweeney with 4:08 to go began Emory’s steady comeback. Chipping away at NYU’s lead, the Eagles edged a lead.

Thanks in part to the three consecutive baskets by senior guard/forward Michelle Bevan, the Eagles found themselves within one point with less than a minute left to play. NYU failed to answer and trailed by three points with one final opportunity to tie the game. With two seconds remaining, the Violets hoisted a three-point basket that could potentially send the game into overtime, but the equalizer missed. The Eagles flew away with a 78-75 win.

Commending Bevan for her strong play, Thomaskutty explained what made the senior a vital part of the team’s victory.

“What she did offensively and defensively was great, but most importantly it was her rebounding,” Thomaskutty exclaimed. “She led us in rebounding and when Michelle is rebounding, we’re winning games.”

Oldshue affirmed that the team’s defense in the second half is what won Emory the game.

“We stepped up our defense,” Oldshue said. “We were scoring well, but we were still letting [NYU] do what they wanted offensively in the first half. In the second half we really started focusing on defense and getting a couple of stops is what helped us win the game.”

The Eagles’ next competition will take place Friday Feb. 3 against Brandeis in Waltham, Mass.

Emory’s women’s basketball team battled through two decisive games in the team’s third consecutive week of UAA competition.

The Eagles traveled to Cleveland where they sported a decisive victory against the Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) Spartans Friday, Jan. 20, and crossed the Ohio-Pennsylvania border Sunday, Jan. 22, only to lose by 20 to the Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) Tartans in Pittsburgh. Emory’s record settles to 11-5 overall and 2-3 in conference play.

In the first quarter against Case Western, the Eagles allowed 20 points and fell behind the Spartans. Sophomore guard Azzairia Jackson-Sherrod and senior guard Shellie Kaniut each contributed six points to Emory’s first quarter total of 17.

Jackson-Sherrod and senior guard/forward Michelle Bevan sparked the offense in the second quarter, tallying six and seven more points, respectively. Emory outscored Case Western 17-16 in the second and trailed by two at halftime.

Both squads lit up the court offensively in the third quarter, Emory scoring 26 and Case Western 25. Each team converted on four three-point field goals and garnered offensive production from a slew of different players. Emory was led by sophomore center Ashley Oldshue, who marked 10 points for the Eagles in the third.

In the fourth quarter, Emory ran the floor against the Spartans. The Eagles tightened up defensively and outscored their foe 19-4 in the final quarter. Every athlete on the court for Emory solidified the team’s defensive presence and successfully converted defense into offense.

Attributing the team’s success to the defensive press, Kaniut affirmed that her team’s defensive improvements in the second half were instrumental in their victory.

“In the second half we started pressing them,” Kaniut said. “We interfered with what they wanted to do on offense and we gave them a lot of ball pressure so they couldn’t take advantage of their size down low.”

With a dominant fourth quarter, the women garnered a comfortable 79-65 victory against Case Western.

“We really rallied and played tough,” Head Coach Christy Thomaskutty said. “We came together and refused to lose. When things got tough down nine points, we played well together.”

The Eagles’ second game yielded much poorer results. Emory could not answer Carnegie Mellon’s offensive attack and suffered a loss at the hands of the Tartans.

The Eagles  kept the game close in the first quarter. Leading Emory’s offensive efforts early, senior guard Fran Sweeney fired two successful three-point baskets. However, Carnegie Mellon held against the Eagles in the first quarter, 20-17.

To the Eagles’s dismay, Carnegie Mellon established a hefty lead in the second quarter. Leading to an underwhelming Emory performance, the Tartans tacked on 29 points and held Emory to 17 in the second.

Thomaskutty proclaimed that her team did not challenge Carnegie’s low-post players and failed to successfully execute the defensive game plan.

“We are struggling when the other team has a dominant low post player,” Thomaskutty said. “We did not control the variables that we could control defensively and it was a domino effect from there.”

Down 15, Emory was not able to turn the tides against Carnegie Mellon in the second half. The Tartans outperformed Emory offensively and defensively. The Eagles failed to come back and eventually lost the game, 93-73.

Kaniut believed her team’s inability to stick to the game plan led to its defeat.

“Although we cut [Carnegie’s] lead in the third quarter, we just didn’t stick with the game plan and that’s how they pulled away,” Kaniut said.

Thomaskutty mentioned her disappointment with the result of the game against the Tartans, admitting that Carnegie Mellon thoroughly outplayed her team.

“Carnegie had their way with us,” Thomaskutty exclaimed. “We did not stick to the game plan defensively speaking and [Carnegie] got to do what they wanted to do rather than us making it harder on the defensive end.”

Emory will be back on the court Friday, Jan. 27, when the Eagles host Brandeis University (Mass.) at the WoodPEC.

Hoping to solidify their position in the race for a UAA title, the Emory men’s basketball team took a big step forward this weekend with two road wins. Travelling first to Case Western Reserve University (Ohio), the Eagles picked up a 91-81 victory and completed the road trip with a convincing 93-77 win over Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.). Now 12-4 on the season and 3-2 in the UAA, the Eagles sit at No. 3 in the conference. Emory has nine conference games remaining to close the gap between themselves, Rochester University (N.Y.) (4-1) and league leader Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) (5-0).

After a frustrating 0-2 start to UAA play, a much-needed home win over University of Chicago (Ill.) Jan. 15 restored confidence to the team at a critical moment. Road wins are hard to come by in the UAA, and after letting a game slip at home, the Eagles needed to come up with big performances on the road.

“Our backs are against the wall,” junior guard Whit Rapp said. “We are playing catch up to Rochester and Wash U, so we don’t have any games or practices that we can take off. We are in the back seat right now and we are trying to get into the driver’s seat.”

On Friday, Case Western had other plans in mind. Spurred by early contributions from junior forwards Eric and David Black, Case Western jumped ahead to a 35-22 lead in the first 16 minutes of the half.

Emory wouldn’t give up so easily. In a riveting sequence, senior forward Jim Gordon made three consecutive three-pointers in the final two minutes of the half, trimming the Case Western lead to three going into the break, 39-42.

“Jim catalyzed that run,” Rapp said. “Coming back from being down by [13] points and getting it to three by half was huge for momentum and morale.”

The beginning of the second half mirrored the first, with Case Western jumping out to a slim lead. Nevertheless, the Eagles came back, reaching a 58-58 tie halfway through the second half.

“We stayed with it, we didn’t panic, and that’s hard to do,” Head Coach Jason Zimmerman said. “It was a big last four minutes of the half and it got us back to where [we could say], ‘hey we can win this game’. I was really proud of our guys for just staying with it.”

After coming back to tie the game, a jumper from senior forward Austin Dague broke the draw and gave the Eagles a lead, one they would not relinquish. Helped by 31 points and eight rebounds from junior forward Adam Gigax, Emory rolled to a 91-81 win.

“[Gigax] can score in a lot of different ways,” Zimmerman said. “He can score inside, he can step outside, he can score in the midrange, and he is a good cutter. He puts himself in good situations.”

After spending much of Friday’s game playing from behind, Emory flipped the script Sunday. The Eagles jumped to an early 7-0 lead against Carnegie Mellon and never trailed, at one point extending the lead to 23 points. With five players in double figures, the Eagle offense threatened from all positions, highlighted by 26 points and 12 rebounds from junior forward Christopher Avant along with 11 points and 13 assists from Rapp.

“Rapp makes us go,” Dague said. “He does so much for us. He is a pass first, unselfish point guard who is always looking to get guys open. As long as we are running to our spots and making hard cuts, he is going to find us.”

With everything going Emory’s way, the Eagles coasted to a 93-77 win.

“Coach always tells us that there are two things that we can control,” Rapp said. “One is running, the other is talking, and today we just ran to our spots and executed our offense.”

The Eagles return home next weekend, taking on Brandeis University (Mass.) Friday night before a matinee performance Sunday against New York University.

Senior guard Shellie Kaniut surveys the floor for the Eagles. Photo courtesy Emory Athletics.

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.