The Emory women’s basketball team met two defeats on Jan. 16 and Jan. 18 against Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Chicago (Ill.), respectively.
Going up against the Washington University Bears, the Eagles expected a tough fight.
“We were prepared for a tough game, and that was one of those games that we had to keep chipping away,” junior guard Ilene Tsao said.
The Bears bested the Eagles 66-59 in a close and rigorous display.
Washington University is ranked fourth, and the loss to the Bears moved Emory’s record to 8–5 on the season and 0-2 in the University Athletic Association (UAA) rankings.
“Wash U is definitely a rival and they are ranked pretty high this year,” Tsao said. “They have a very solid team; we respect their team. Going in, we knew it was going to be a challenge.”
Junior guard Khadijah Sayyid led Emory with 14 points and received her fourth double-double of the season after netting 14 rebounds, a game high.
Freshman forward Dumebi Egbuna achieved her season high of 12 points during the game, while receiving her fifth double-double of the season.
“Wash U was different because they are a talented team, and they read our defense really well,” sophomore guard Shellie Kaniut said. “Our practices really helped with that. We could have pulled it out with a win, but they were pretty hard offensively.”
Given the competitive nature of the rivalry, Tsao said that the team was less determined on narrowing down a formula against Washington University and instead, focused on using their all in the contest.
“In the past we’ve done more preparation for Wash U and as a team, we just needed to play and play hard. This time around there was a little less preparation,” Tsao said. “What Wash U ran was something that we had been preparing for all season. We knew the personnel and the key players of the team. We were ready.”
The game followed a rhythm throughout the quarters, the Eagles managed to cut the score deficit to eight points prior to halftime after seven-straight baskets.
The Bears outshot the Eagles by a small margin,sinking 41.7 percent of their shots from the floor, while the Eagles made 40.7 percent.
Following the Friday night contest with Washington University, the Eagles met the University of Chicago Maroons on Sunday afternoon.
The Maroons routed the Eagles with a score of 70-57 and moved their record to 2-1 in the UAAs and 8-6 overall. The Eagles’ record fell to 8-6 in the season and 0-3 in the UAAs.
“Chicago was a very scrappy, hard team. They are very hard to practice for,” Kaniut said. “Knowing how to play defense, we can read what they are giving us for the next challenge. We are excited for that.”
Right after the Friday night game and Saturday practice, the team had to “exude toughness and be mentally focused [on Sunday],” Tsao said. “We worn down from that Friday game.”
Sayyid again led the Eagles’ attack with a game-high 23 points, her 10th attack lead this year and her fifth 20-plus game of the season.
The Eagles found themselves off to a slow start, closing the first half with an 11-point deficit. With 13:46 minutes left in the game, the team rallied a 13-5 charge, cemented with a triple by Sayyid.
Kaniut then contributed five points and brought the core to 54-51 with just over eight minutes remaining.
Tsao spoke about the offensive capabilities of the Maroons.
“We were more focused on their dribble penetration; they drive a very good drive and kick offense,” she said.
Kaniut echoed her teammate’s sentiments.
“Chicago was more aggressive than Wash U, which was more technical,” she said.
The Maroons ended the game hitting 48.9 percent from the field, while the Eagles managed 40.8 percent.
“It’s been a rough start for the UAAs. It was tough weekend that we had to go through,” Tsao said. “We finally get to play at home this weekend.”
The Eagles will host Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) tonight at 6 p.m.
“This was one of the hardest travel weekends, in terms of distance and level of competition we played, and although we didn’t end up with wins, we got a good start,” Kaniut said. “Case Western has [been] known to be scrappy and will fight to the very end. We need to bring that confidence that we brought to Wash U and bring in a win and keep it going.”
— By Stephen Jaber, Staff Writer