USI gets back on track with win against Eastern Michigan


EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball began its three-game homestand from Screaming Eagles Arena with a return to the win column on Saturday afternoon, posting a 72-51 victory against Eastern Michigan University.
The Screaming Eagles returned to the .500 mark with a 4-4 record after Saturday’s win to snap a four-game skid. Eastern Michigan dropped to 1-7 after a fifth consecutive loss.
Southern Indiana jumped out to a fast start Saturday afternoon, converting at the foul line on two trips and knocking down four jumpers within the first four minutes. USI led 12-4 by the six-minute mark of the opening period. Senior forward Madi Webb (Bedford, Indiana) spearheaded the fast start, connecting on her first three shots for six quick points.
The Screaming Eagles’ defense was also active early, forcing seven turnovers by Eastern Michigan in the first quarter. USI held Eastern Michigan scoreless for the last three minutes, leading to a 20-11 advantage for Southern Indiana heading into the second quarter.
USI’s momentum from the end of the first quarter carried over into the start of the second period, as USI built a 7-0 run and continued to hold Eastern Michigan scoreless through the eight-minute mark. Southern Indiana extended its lead to 32-15 with four minutes left in the first half after drilling three triples. Two of the three-pointers came from senior forward Meredith Raley (Haubstadt, Indiana), who cashed one in from several feet behind the perimeter.
The long-range treys kept falling for the Screaming Eagles, as junior guard Vanessa Shafford (Linton, Indiana) crossed into double figures scoring for the sixth straight game with a three of her own. Inside the final minute before halftime, a strong pump fake and drive by Raley gave USI a 37-19 lead at the intermission.
Out of the halftime locker room, defenses stood tall to begin the second half, but Southern Indiana went on a 9-0 run to increase its lead to 27 points, 48-21, by the halfway point of the third period. Then Webb joined Raley and Shafford in double figures with a basket.
Later on, USI sophomore guard Ali Saunders (Depauw, Indiana) got into a groove, making a three and finishing a second-chance putback. In the back half of the third quarter, Eastern Michigan produced a small run but was quickly quieted after Shafford scorched the net with consecutive makes from beyond the arc. USI carried a 62-33 lead to the fourth quarter, where Eastern Michigan made a push, but Southern Indiana put the final touches on the big victory.
For the game, Southern Indiana shot 36.7 percent (22-60) overall and sunk season-highs 10 three-pointers and 18 free throws. USI outrebounded Eastern Michigan, 47-37. Individually, Shafford paced the Screaming Eagles with 21 points, tying a season-high, with five triples and six boards. Raley and Webb also poured in season highs with 15 points apiece. The two each grabbed five rebounds as well. Saunders finished with eight points, five rebounds, and three assists. Redshirt senior guard Addy Blackwell (Bloomington, Indiana) had a solid game with seven points, three assists, and four steals.
Southern Indiana’s defense made it a tough afternoon for Eastern Michigan, who was held to 28.6 percent (16-56) shooting and below 25 percent (7-29) from distance. Plus, the Screaming Eagles’ defensive unit forced Eastern Michigan into 18 turnovers. The visiting Eagles from Eastern Michigan had two players score in double digits.
USI will be out of game action in the coming week for final exams before welcoming the University of Cincinnati from the Big-12 Conference to Screaming Eagles Arena next Sunday, December 17. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m. Next Sunday will also be Family Day with BOGO tickets and a teddy bear toss with Toys for Tots.