YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) – In its first home game since March 9, the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team fell to the University of Illinois-Chicago, 66-62, Nov. 29, inside the Convocation Center.
Eastern (1-1; 0-0 MAC) raced out to an early lead, but surrendered it in the second quarter after an 11-0 UIC (1-1; 0-1 Horizon) run. Both teams traded baskets over the final two periods, scoring 30 points apiece, but the effort was not enough for the Eagles, who fell just short of a second 2-0 start in its last five seasons.
Redshirt sophomore Ce’Nara Skanes (Oklahoma City, Okla.-Putnam City West (Florida International)) registered a career night, recording new career-highs in points (30), made field goals (14), rebounds (11), assists (2), steals (2), and minutes (37). For Skanes, she becomes the first Eagle to reach the 30-point plateau since then-sophomore Jenna Annecchiarico (Baldwin, N.Y.-Baldwin) notched 31 against Western Michigan, Feb. 8, 2020.
Redshirt senior Areanna Combs(Oklahoma City, Oklahoma-Putnam City West (Oklahoma State)) scored in double-digits, finishing with 13 points as she increased her double-figure scoring streak to 26 games. The Oklahoma native also paced the team in assists with five, marking a new season-high. The effort was her third as an Eagle with five-or-more assists. Annecchiarico swiped eight balls from the Flames to attain a new career-high in steals, while recording a season-high in assists (4) and rebounds (6). Redshirt junior Juanita Agosto (Seattle, Wa.-Garfield) also showed great hustle all game, earning eight hard-fought points and five total rebounds, three of which on the offensive end.
The Flames opened up the game’s scoring a layup, however, the Eagles responded by going on an 8-0 run over a three-minute stretch to move ahead, 8-2. The streak was highlighted by an Agosto rebound in which she drove the length of the court for the fast break bucket. Minutes later, Skanes showcased her skills in the paint when she grabbed an offensive rebound and made a layup over her defender. Annecchiarico was active on the defensive side of the balling, picking-off an ill-advised Flames’ pass that resulted in an easy Eagles’ bucket. Skanes finished the period hitting 4-of-6 shots for eight points while wrangling in five rebounds as the quarter wrapped up with EMU in front, 18-11.
An 11-0 UIC run was the highlight of the action in the second quarter. Down by as many as 10 in the first half, UIC’s run put them ahead, 23-22, with just under six minutes remaining in the frame. Skanes hit a contested jumper and followed that up with a defiant block on the defensive end. The Oklahoma City product was efficient sharing the ball as well, as she dished a nifty pass in the paint to redshirt junior RayJon Harris (Euclid, Ohio-Euclid) for the score to give the Eagles the lead once again, 32-31, with under one minute remaining in the half. Combs paced all players in the first half with four assists. Meanwhile, Agosto displayed her athleticism by pulling in three offensive boards and nabbing two steals. UIC retook the lead going into the half, 36-32.
Facing a sizeable scoring drought at the start of the second half, EMU broke through for a bucket when Skanes hit a layup with 4:27 on the clock, courtesy of an assist by Combs. That bucket brought EMU back within three, 43-40, however, the Flames were quick to respond with a basket of their own, whcih extended their lead back to six, 46-40. Skanes picked up where she left off in the first half, dominating on the offensive end and reaching the 20-point mark with about two minutes remaining in the quarter. Shortly after, a fast break basket by Combs, assisted by Annecchiarico helped the Eagles inch closer to UIC, 48-46. The third quarter ended in a stalemate, with UIC holding a four-point lead, 50-46. EMU was still in search of its first basket beyond the arc. Unfortunately, it never found it, finishing the game with an 0-for-15 mark.
Agosto opened fourth quarter scoring for the Eagles with a strong drive to the basket, putting the Eagles within one possession of the Flames, 50-48. EMU tied it up at 50-apiece two minutes into the fourth quarter with layup from Skanes, but the lead was quickly retaken by the Flames with a three of their own. The Green and White continued to trail closely thanks to the efforts of Skanes, who remained strong in the paint. She reached the 30-point mark and grabbed 11 rebounds in the game. In addition to those numbers being career-bests, they are also single-game season bests for any EMU player during the 2020-21 campaign. The final minutes remained close as EMU remained persistent, however, the Eagles ultimately fell to the Flames, 66-62.
Eastern bested UIC in assists (12-to-9), fast break points (19-to-12), steals (18-to-12), points off turnovers (22-to-20), and points in the paint (52-to-34).
Up next for the Green and White, the team heads south for a non-conference matchup against Southeast Missouri State, Sunday, Dec. 6 in Cape Girardeau, Mo. The game’s tipoff time is yet to be announced. Last time these teams met, the Eagles came away with the win, as they defeated the Redhwaks, 69-64, Nov. 19, 2019.
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