EMU women's basketball clinches share of MAC West title with senior day win over Ball State
Eventually, Tavelyn James’ No. 24 jersey will hang from rafters at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center.
On Saturday afternoon, the school’s all-time leading scorer bid farewell to her home arena with a 23-point performance in a 74-43 win over Ball State.
With the senior day victory, Eastern Michigan clinched at least a share of the Mid-American Conference West Division title and advanced straight into the MAC Tournament semifinals on March 9 in Cleveland, Ohio.
James’ final basket of the lopsided win came in the final seconds of the first half, when she dribbled through and around three Ball State (9-19, 4-11) defenders for a layup and a 47-14 halftime lead for the Eagles (21-7, 13-2).
With the game well in hand, James took just five shots in the second half, instead focusing on getting the ball inside to the Eagles’ other senior, Paige Redditt, who recorded her eighth double-double of the season.
Both seniors were honored in a pre-game ceremony in front of an announced crowd of 606 fans at the Convocation Center.
Redditt finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Eagles, who can wrap up an outright division title with a win at Central Michigan on Tuesday.
“We’ve fought long hard just to be MAC champions, and I think this team is so deserving,” coach AnnMarie Gilbert said, who explained the team had tabbed the stretch run of its season ‘The Drive for Five.’
“Five games ago, we said if we could win these last five, we’d have a chance. So far, so good. Four down, one to go.”
The Eagles -- who won MAC West titles in 2004,, 2006 and 2008 -- extended their current win streak to eight games and finished the season 10-1 at home.
EMU sophomores Olivia Fouty (17 points, 9 rebounds) and Natachia Watkins (12 points, 13 rebounds) joined their senior teammates in double-figure scoring totals.
Suzann Grossnickle led Ball State with 13 points.
James made 10-of-17 shots from the floor in the first half, including a steal and fast break layup that extended the EMU lead to 20 points (27-7) by the 12-minute mark of the first half.