Saturday was a historic night for the No. 16-ranked women’s basketball team as the Eagles clinched the program’s first ever University Athletic Association (UAA) title. Emory beat the Rochester University Yellowjackets in a convincing 65-57 game.
The game was played at the Woodruff P.E. Center (WoodPEC).
“We went into the game just like every other game,” senior forward Danielle Landry said. “We knew what was at stake and what was on the line, but we knew that if we had lost any of the other games we wouldn’t be in this position. So even though there was a lot at stake, we played it like any other game.”
The Eagles came out of the gates quickly, jumping to a seemingly insurmountable 38-28 lead at halftime. Rochester was able to cut the deficit to two points with 12:21 left in the first half, but Emory quickly responded with a 16-6 run.
The team’s first-half success was keyed by a defense that forced 13 Rochester turnovers. Emory managed 15 first-half points off turnovers.
“The defensive success was probably because of our press,” Landry said. “It allowed us to force like 15 turnovers. We know we can always score, so to win the close game we need to step up defensively.”
Emory’s first-half scoring was boosted by junior point guard Savannah Morgan, who scored a team-high 11 first-half points.
The Eagles’ first-half streakiness continued into the second half as both teams exchanged barrages of unanswered points. A three-pointer by Rochester’s Ally Zywicki cut Emory’s lead to seven points at the start of the second half, before the Eagles responded by extending their lead to 16 with a 10-1 run with 16:12 left on the clock.
“We are still trying to figure [the streakiness] out ourselves,” Landry said. “. . . I think that sometimes when you don’t hit a shot you feel pressure to break the streak, and it leads you to force other shots that aren’t smart.”
A series of Rochester runs put the Yellowjackets down by only two points with the ball and only 1:55 left on the game clock.
With a raucous Emory Senior-Night, home crowd looking on, Zywicki missed a jump-shot opportunity to tie up the game and gave the Eagles possession.
“The crowd was phenomenal,” Landry said. “We have never had a crowd like that, even for other big games. It was great, it got us really pumped up. There was a bunch of people in Greek life at the game, everyone’s friends were there and a bunch of people from the other sports teams as well. We finally felt like a state school.”
Emory did not waste any time putting the game out of reach.
With 45 seconds left in the game, Morgan turned Zywicki’s missed jumper into a three-pointer. Morgan’s trey effectively put the game out of reach and the Eagles went on to win 65-57.
Morgan was joined by Landry at the top of the Eagles’ scoring leaders. Morgan tallied a team-high 20 points, while Landry added 18 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Saturday marked the last home game of Landry’s career. A fan favorite, she was greeted in the stands by a bunch of signs – including a blown up image of her head.
“It definitely did affect me knowing that this could have been the last game that I ever was going to play,” Landry said. “Obviously you play to win every game, and I try my hardest every game, so I am not going to say I tried harder. But I had a bunch of friends at the game and my family came out for Senior Night, so it definitely felt good.”
Landry is joined by forward Misha Jackson and guard Katie Dickerson as the three seniors on the team. Jackson scored four points and was second on the team with six rebounds in her last home game as an Eagle.
Dickerson did not play in the game.
In her Emory career she played in 31 games and notched two double-digit scoring efforts.
“This year’s senior class especially just tried to keep the team full circle,” Landry said. “We have had different groups, but now we all have a relationship. We go to the [Dobbs University Center (DUC)] with freshmen and no one will go to the DUC willingly. That has been huge. It has given us trust, and this has been the difference between this year and last year.”
With the win over Rochester, Emory clinched a spot in the NCAA tournament.
The team was informed on Sunday that they will be hosting the first-round game of the NCAA tournament at the WoodPEC.
The game will be played Friday night.
– Contact Nathaniel Ludewig at firstname.lastname@example.org
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