Second Half Heroics Spur UAA Weekend Sweep

In a weekend highlighted by late game heroics, the No. 20-ranked women’s basketball team won two road games against University Athletic Association (UAA) opponents.

On Friday, the Eagles rallied for a 75-57 win against Case Western Reserve University (Ohio). The team came back from a seven-point deficit at halftime.

On Sunday, the Emory Eagles edged out the Carnegie Mellon University Tartans (Pa.) on a buzzer beater from senior forward Misha Jackson.

“We knew this weekend was going to be very important for us,” Jackson said. “This is a very tough conference, so it is always difficult to win two consecutive games, especially when you are playing on the road.”

Case Western’s Spartans came out of the gates strong on Friday and did not look back until halftime. Their success in the first half was led by their defense, which held the Eagles to 30 percent (10-for-33) shooting from the floor.

Case Western extended their lead to 11 in the beginning of the first half, but from there it was all Eagles. Emory shot 41.3 percent (26-for-43) from the floor and 42 percent (8-for-19) from the three-point range.

The comeback was led by freshman guard Ilene Tsao. Tsao scored 14 points in the second half and led the team with 16 points on the game. The 16 points were a career high for Tsao.

“We were able to come back because of the play of our freshmen, such as Ilene [Tsao],” Jackson said. “They had a lot of energy, and we were able to feed off of that in the second half and come back from a seven-point first half deficit.”

Junior guard Selena Castillo and sophomore guard Hannah Lilly added 14 points apiece to the Eagles’ effort.

Jackson led the team with 10 rebounds. Jackson has consistently been a team leader for Emory this season.

“A lot of my success this season has been a result of my off-season work,” Jackson said. “I have been trying to get better at areas I was weak in last year. I have specifically changed my focus towards my play on defense.”

On Sunday, the Eagles built off the success of Friday’s second half rally. Emory’s scoring was led by junior Savannah Morgan, who put up 18 points on the game.

Of her 18 points, nine points came from three pointers.

Lilly and Castillo joined Morgan as Emory’s three double-digit scores, with 15 points and 10 points respectively.

Emory held a 62-51 lead with 2:55 left in the contest.

A late surge by Carnegie Mellon put the score at 64-61 with 10 seconds left.

The Tartans’ run did not end there. With three seconds left, Carnegie Mellon’s Gabrielle West hit a three pointer to tie the game at 64.

From there, it was all Jackson. Jackson shot a buzzer-beating jump shot to give the Eagles a 66-64 road victory.

“In situations like this, we usually use plays that we went over in practice,” Jackson said. “This time, [Head] Coach [Christy Thomaskutty] drew up a play before we went out. It was a simple back screen play. Savannah Morgan made a great pass and I was open.”

The wins against Carnegie Mellon and Case moved Emory’s record to 14-2 on the season and 4-1 in UAA play.

The team’s sole conference loss came against No. 3 ranked Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.).

“These two wins were tough wins for us,” Jackson said. “We have a really tough conference and it is really hard for us to win back-to-back games. We still have a lot of room for improvement, but we have learned a lot.”

Emory will play its next game on Friday, Jan. 25 against UAA opponent Brandeis University (Mass.). The game will be played at the Woodruff P.E. Center.

Contact Nathaniel Ludewig at nludewi@emory.edu