Both the Emory men’s and women’s basketball teams face crucial stretches this weekend that will go a long way in determining both teams’ chances at a University Athletic Association (UAA) title. Both teams will play host to the Brandeis University Judges on Friday and the New York University (NYU) Violets on Sunday.
The women’s team enters the weekend ranked 18th in the nation and riding a three-game winning streak. A dramatic win at Carnegie Mellon University last Sunday on senior forward Misha Jackson’s buzzer-beater pushed the Eagles’ record to 14-2, including 4-1 in conference play.
Along with rival Washington University (St. Louis), to whom the Eagles suffered an overtime loss, and Rochester University, whom the Eagles beat in double overtime, Emory is currently on top of the conference standings.
The opposition this weekend, on the other hand, currently resides in the UAA cellar. Brandeis enters Friday’s match sporting a 7-9 record with a 1-4 mark in conference play, while NYU stands at 8-8 with an identical 1-4 conference record.
The Eagles will need to muster all the points they can to top the Judges’ stingy defense, which most recently held Wash. U. to just 60 points in a losing effort last weekend.
The team has relied heavily on junior guards Hannah Lilly and Savannah Morgan, the team’s two leading scorers, to kick start the offense.
Jackson rounds out the team’s double-digit scorers, averaging 11.3 points per game on the season to complement Lilly’s 14.3 and Morgan’s 12.3.
“A lot of my success this season has been a result of my offseason 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.”
Morgan also leads the Eagles in assists per game with 5.7, while Jackson leads on the boards with 9.6 rebounds per contest.
Junior guard Selena Castillo has been key in the Eagles’ recent games as well, contributing 14 points, five rebounds and four steals in a road win over Case Western Reserve University as well as 10 second-half points in the dramatic victory over Carnegie Mellon.
Castillo leads the team in steals per game with 3.0 and is a threat from deep with a .421 three-point field goal percentage.
On the men’s side, the team enters the weekend with an 11-4 record including a 3-2 mark in conference play. After dropping their first two conference match-ups by a combined 11 points, the Eagles have reeled off three double-digit UAA wins. Their record is good for third place in the conference, 1.5 games behind Brandeis and Rochester, both of whom are undefeated in the UAA.
The Eagles’ attack starts with senior guard Alex Greven, who was recently named the UAA co-player of the week, the third time in his career he has received the honor. Greven had a week to remember in the Eagles’ two blowout wins over Case Western and Carnegie Mellon, averaging 20 points, seven rebounds and 4.5 assists.
Emory will need both Greven, second on the team with 16.4 points per game and junior forward Jake Davis, first with 18.7, to be on the top of their games to take down the Judges.
Brandeis (14-2 overall, 5-0 in the UAA) stands as a challenge for the red-hot Eagles, who will put their three-game winning streak to the test and hope to gain some ground in the race for the conference title.
NYU sports a similar record to Emory, 12-4 on the season and 2-3 in league play. The Eagles will rely on both Davis and Greven as well as the recent hot play of junior guard McPherson Moore, who has emerged as a scoring threat with 19 points in his last two games.
Moore is averaging 13.3 points per game on the season, including a gaudy 17.4 points per game in conference play.
Davis and senior forward Michael Friedberg pace the team on the glass with 6.8 rebounds per game each, while sophomore guard Michael Florin leads the team in assists with 5.6 per game.
The action will start Friday, Jan. 25 when the women’s team faces Brandeis at 6 p.m. followed by the men’s team also facing the Judges at 8 p.m.
The men’s team will open play against NYU on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 12 p.m. while the women take on the Violets at 2 p.m.
— By Ryan Smith