The No. 21-ranked women’s basketball team got their season off to a strong start this weekend, posting a 94-37 victory over Spelman College and 72-54 victory over Piedmont College to win the Emory Tip-off Classic.
Senior co-captain Misha Jackson led the team’s dominating performance, and was the team’s high scorer and one of four with double-digit points. She put up 19 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, the 10th-highest mark in a single game in the program’s entire history and the most by any Eagle since 1991.
The Eagles jumped out to an early lead over Spelman, and the score stood at 12-0 score within the first five minutes of the game. Spelman scored its first basket with a little over 16 minutes still left on the clock for the first half, but the Eagles immediately countered with a three-pointer from junior and preseason all-American Hannah Lilly.
Jackson followed by scoring another pair of points with a lay-up and a jump shot, bringing the Eagles lead up to 19-2 at the 15:44 mark. Over the course of the first half, the Eagles held a lead of at least 25 points three different times.
“We started each half tremendously strong, and that was a big part of the game,” Head Coach Christy Thomaskutty said. “We executed really well offensively and defensively, although there is room to improve on defensive play. We have to limit the other teams’ ability to get to the rim.”
After a pair of free throws by Jackson, Emory led 46-21 at halftime. Jackson’s 17 points and 11 rebounds were game highs in both categories, while junior guard Savannah Morgan added six assists in the first half.
“Friday night was a great start to our season. We dominated on the glass and Misha Jackson significantly impacted that rebounding margin by pulling down 19,” senior guard Katie Dickerson said. “Every player on our team contributed in a big way and it was great to see our freshmen step up to the challenge.”
The Eagles kept up their intensity level throughout the second half, increasing their lead to an impressive 62 points with just under two minutes remaining on the clock.
In addition to Jackson’s play at Friday’s game, Lilly contributed 12 points, while Dickerson and senior center Danielle Landry each added 10.
“While it feels good to have a win under our belts, we are not taking any team lightly this season,” Dickerson said.
The Eagles came out with a win, bringing them to the championship game of the Emory Tip-off Classic on Saturday where Emory defeated Piedmont College 72-54 victory.
Lilly delivered a game-high of 21 points on Saturday, while Jackson came through her second straight double-double.
“Jackson’s double-doubles were definitely impressive,” Thomaskutty said. “A number of players that may have not shown up in the stat lines also gave us quality minutes at the championship game. The freshmen really stepped up.”
Over a six-minute stretch, Emory expanded a four-point edge into a comfortable lead, with the score standing at 30-13 with 6:50 left on the clock Five Emory players contributed points to this run.
“It is great that all of our players got a chance to play this weekend, especially because we had a big fan base thanks to the majority of the team’s families being in town,” Jackson said.
Lilly opened the second half with a pair of three-pointers, bringing the Eagles to one of their largest leads of the night, 52-26, with 16:30 remaining. Lilly scored 14 points over the last 20 minutes of the game. Junior guard Selena Castillo added another eight points as well.
“It feels great to start off the season 2-0,” Lilly said. “With our defensive pressure and offensive rebounds we were really able to get in the heads of Piedmont. It was a great team win that everybody contributed to.”
Jackson scored 16 points, was six for 13 on field goal opportunities and for the second straight game pulled down 17 rebounds.
For Landy, the highlight of the weekend was the effort of the freshmen.
“The biggest standout moments for me this weekend were that all four newcomers all worked hard, earned points, and were proud to be Emory Eagles,” Landry said.
The Eagles will be taking their game on the road when they play at LaGrange College at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20.
— By Nicola Braginsky