Comeback falls short for Eastern Michigan women in 70-68 loss to Buffalo
Trailing by 10 points with less than seven minutes left in the game, the Eastern Michigan women’s basketball team made a furious comeback against Buffalo and took a one-point lead with 50 seconds to play.
But the Eagles’ only lead of the second half would be short-lived. The Bulls quickly regained the advantage and escaped the Convocation Center with a 70-68 win Saturday afternoon.
At halftime, former Eastern Michigan star Laurie Byrd became the first women’s basketball player in school history to have her jersey retired.
The Eagles’ Cassie Schrock put on a performance that ought to have made Byrd proud, scoring 29 points on 12 of 25 shooting and almost single-handedly willing her team to a victory.
But the senior guard's efforts came up just short, as did the Eagles’ late rally.
Eastern Michigan outscored Buffalo 16-5 over a 5-minutes stretch late in the second half, finally taking its first lead, 68-67, on a Tavelyn James run-out layup. But the Eagles couldn’t come up with a stop against the Mid-American Conference’s leading scorer, Kourtney Brown, with the game on the line.
Brown got the ball in the post and made an easy lay-in to put Buffalo back ahead with 28 seconds left.
James missed a 3-pointer from the corner with 15 seconds left, and Buffalo’s Ashley Zuber extended the Bulls’ lead to two by splitting a pair of free throws with 8 seconds on the clock.
Schrock took the inbounds pass, drove the length of the court and went to the basket only to miss a bank shot. An Eagles put-back attempt also missed as the buzzer sounded.
It was Eastern Michigan’s play on the defensive end that sparked the late comeback, but the turnaround didn’t come in time.
“We started playing defense too late in the game, which is why we were behind,” James said. “The defense we had at the end of the second half should have been how we started the game.”
Brown, who also leads the conference in rebounds and blocks, scored 26 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and swatted four shots for Buffalo.
James, the third-leading scorer in the MAC, struggled to find a rhythm in the game, finishing with nine points.
Sydney Huntley stepped up to fill the void, scoring 18 for Eastern Michigan. But it was Shrock who carried the team on her back Saturday.
“She’s terrific,” James said of Schrock. “And that’s two games in a row. She deserves to be MAC Player of the Week.”
Schrock scored 30 points in Wednesday's 75-66 win over Kent State.
With the loss Saturday, Eastern Michigan (16-8, 7-3 MAC West) falls two games behind MAC West Division leader Toledo. The Rockets beat Miami, 76-65, on Saturday.
Buffalo improves to 12-10 overall and 5-4 in the MAC.