Tulsa cut a 16-point deficit to two points in the second half, but couldn't manage to pull out a victory as the Eastern Michigan Eagles advanced to the third round of the WNIT with a 69-59 victory over Tulsa Sunday afternoon in front of 324 fans at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
Eastern Michigan, which led from start to finish, improved to 24-12 on the season and will play Southern Miss in third round WNIT action, while Tulsa closed out the season with an 18-14 record.
“I am really proud of this group. To win 18 games, to have the success we had in the first WNIT game and to send Mariah and Kadan out on a note that they came into this program after a five-win season and they are leaving having went to postseason in two of their four years. I am really excited for them and thankful they chose to be a part of what we've done here,” said Tulsa Head Coach Matilda Mossman.
Tulsa's Ashley Clark had team-highs of 18 points and eight rebounds, while senior Mariah Turner added 16 and also grabbed eight boards. The Eagles were led by three players in double-figure scoring with Janay Morton and Cha Sweeney tallying 18 points apiece and Jamaica Bucknor chipping in with 12 points.
Tulsa shot only 39-percent from the field and 35-percent from three-point range, while the Eagles had a shooting percentage of 43-percent and knocked down 45-percent of its treys. The Eastern bench outscored Tulsa's reserves 24-0.
“We just missed shots. We knew coming in that this was a team we had to make shots against and we just didn't. We got off to a bad start, didn't have as much energy as we would have liked, didn't play as hard as we would have liked to start with. It was just too much of us not having enough energy and enough passion and them just hitting shots. I thought we hung in there in a lot of areas, but we couldn't get the ball to go down at certain times,” added Mossman.
Trailing by 10 at halftime (30-20), Tulsa opened the second half on a 12-6 run to cut the Eastern lead to four points at 36-32 when Mariah Turner scored on a layup at the 14:07 mark. The Eagles responded by scoring the next five points and took a 41-32 lead with 12:42 left in the contest.
Tulsa cut the EMU lead to two points, 44-42, at the 10:07 mark after Grovey knocked down two straight three-pointers, but that was as close as the Hurricane would get. The Eagles answered with two quick baskets to move its lead back to six points, 48-42, at the 8:49 mark.
EMU took a double-digit lead with 5:38 remaining as Sweeney knocked down a trey to make the score 59-49, and the Hurricane could not cut its deficit to single digits the remainder of the game.
Eastern Michigan scored the first points of the game on a three-pointer by Morton and held onto the lead until Brady's trey at the 15:41 mark tied the game at 9-9. The Eagles scored the next nine points to take an 18-9 lead with 11:07 left on the first-half clock.
Clark's jumper stopped the Eastern run to make the score 18-11 at the 10:32 mark, and Tulsa could manage just two points on four free throws over the next three minutes before the Eagles stopped a 4:17 drought on a three-pointer by Bucknor that made the score 21-13 with 6:50 remaining in the first 20 minutes.
Bucknor's trey started an 8-0 run that put the Eagles ahead 29-13 at the 3:41 mark. Tulsa's Brady drove the lane for a layup at the 2:46 mark making the score 29-15 and giving the Hurricane its first field goal in nearly eight minutes.
Starting with that Brady basket, Tulsa closed out the first half on a 7-1 run as Clark hit a three-pointer and Erika Wakefield knocked down a jumper with 0:01 left, and the Hurricane went into the intermission trailing 30-20.
Brady had eight points to lead Tulsa in the first half, while EMU's Morton and Bucknor each had nine points to pace the Eagles.