The women’s basketball team fought off the Eastern Michigan Eagles (10-10, 3-6 MAC) 63-58, bolstering Miami to a 16-4 record while remaining second in the MAC standings (7-2).
The game also celebrated National Girls and Women in Sports Day by recognizing all of Miami’s past, current and future female student-athletes.
“We’ve talked a lot within our team and in our sports community about how sometimes we aren’t looked at the same as guys,” senior forward Kristen Levering said. “We are just as capable. For all the little girls out there: stick with it and hold your ground against those guys because playing against them, sticking up to them is a lot and we can do it.”
Levering, who averages 5.9 points per game, came off the bench and put up a game-, season- and career-high 20 points while adding eight rebounds. She also attempted a career high 11 free throws, making eight.
“Right off the bat when I put her in the game, she had that bounce and that confidence inside,” head coach Megan Duffy said. “The maturity that she’s shown as a senior is what wins you games. I don’t know if we deserved to win this game by how we looked, but our grit and determination allowed us to win that game and that was led by Kristen Levering for sure.”
Levering stepped up as leading scorer, junior guard Lauren Dickerson, went 4-19 (21 percent) from the field, making one of seven attempts from beyond the arc.
Despite being down 35-28 at the half, the RedHawks came out swinging in the second half, holding the Eagles to nine points in the third quarter while forcing six turnovers.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Duffy said. “We were shell-shocked a bit and regrouped at halftime and I said [to the team], ‘I can’t give you some magical potion.’ It’s about playing a lot harder than you were and getting attitudes more upbeat because then we will start to come back.”
The offensive production in the second half came from down low, as Miami scored 12 of its 20 third quarter points from the paint.
The RedHawks led 48-44 at the beginning of the fourth quarter as they traded baskets with Eastern Michigan. The Eagles’ redshirt sophomore Corrione Cardwell scored eight of her 17 points in the fourth, but her efforts fell short.
Eastern Michigan struggled from the charity stripe in the second half (2-for-6) and shot 6-for-16 (38 percent) from the line for the game. The Eagles rank 340 of 349 in women’s Division I basketball in free throw percentage at 58 percent.
The RedHawks ended the game on a 9-2 run, aided by seven free throws from Levering and senior guard/forward Kendall McCoy. Four of the free throw attempts were the result of two technical fouls called on one of EMU’s assistant coaches.
Despite only making one shot from deep in the second half, Duffy was pleased with her team’s overall performance.
“We just did the little things,” Duffy said. “The 50/50 balls, the charges, the stuff that can win you a game. They’re buying into that. The teams that plow through that and stay within each other are the ones that can win.”
The RedHawks look to ride their six-game winning streak to Bowling Green State University (7-13, 0-9 MAC) on Saturday. The game tips at 2 p.m. and can be streamed live on ESPN3.