Cleveland, OH- The matinee game at The Q pit the number 6-seeded Eastern Michigan Eagles against the number 3-seeded Ball State Cardinals.
Ball State opened up the game with a 10-2 run that put the Eagles of Eastern Michigan on their heals from the get-go. Eastern Michigan battled back mid-way through the first quarter getting the deficit down to one, making it 16-15. The defenses of both teams tightened up towards the end of the quarter, at the end of the 1st Ball State lead 18-17.
The game heated up in intensity as the physicality of play increased. Players from both teams spent time on the floor early in the second quarter, but the referees kept their whistles in check as only one foul was called on either team through the first 3 and a half minutes of the quarter. Cha Sweeney of Eastern Michigan put back a teammates errant shot in mid air to give the Eagles their first lead of the game at 21-20. The Eagles went on a 13-4 run primarily led by Sweeney that gave them a 32-24 lead going into halftime. Sweeney led all scorers at the half with 19.
Ball State fought to cut down Eastern Michigan’s lead in the third. Going on 11-4 run to reduce the deficit to one mid way through the third. Cha Sweeney took it upon herself to stop the bleeding for the Eagles extending the lead to 7 with 4 minutes left to play in the third. Stingy defense and shoddy shooting by Ball State allowed the Eagles to take an 8-point lead going into to the 4th with the score 45-37.
The fourth quarter started off similar to the third quarter, Ball State battled back to reduce the gap, but Eastern Michigan kept their foot on the gas. The combination of Cha Sweeney and Chanise Baldwin allowed the Eagles to combat comeback attempts by the Cardinals. Eastern Michigan obtained it’s first double digit lead with a little over 5 minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, leading 55-45. Ball State tried to erase the Eagle’s lead by shooting a barrage of threes, but that strategy was largely ineffective. The Cardinals shot a measly 20% from behind the arc. In the end, Eastern Michigan had the best player on the floor, Cha Sweeney dominated the entire game and ended with 29 points.
Eastern Michigan emerged victorious 67-53 and will play Central Michigan on Friday in the semifinals.