Brian Gallagher, For The Miami Student

In their second trip to the state of Michigan in four days, the Miami University women’s basketball team (17-6, 7-3 Mid-American Conference (MAC)) was unable to overcome a dominant performance in the paint by Eastern Michigan University, falling to the Eagles 77-66.

Junior guard Courtney Osborn led the RedHawks with 19 points and senior forward Lillian Pitts dropped in 10 of her own, but Miami’s defense was unable to slow down the offensive attack of Eastern Michigan, which had four players in double figures.

“This is going to be a huge learning opportunity for this team,” Head Coach Maria Fantanarosa said. “This was a tough game because it was our second road game of the week and it was against a very athletic team, but we need to respond.”

The RedHawks were able to shoot 42.9 percent from the field but the difference was in the paint where Miami was outrebounded 47-27, allowing the Eagles to pick up 18 second-chance points.

“Today we played defense well at times but we didn’t bring it for a full 40 minutes,” Osborn said. “The good thing is that the mistakes we made can be fixed.”

Eastern Michigan started off the game on a 16-5 run and Miami was forced to play catch-up for the remainder of the half. But the Miami defense clamped down and the ‘Hawks were able to claw their way back into the game.

Osborn drained a three-pointer to give Miami its first lead of the night since the opening possession and the ‘Hawks were up 34-21 with just under a minute remaining in the period. However, a pair of free throws by the Eagles evened the contest at 34-34 as the first half ended.

“We had opportunities, but they were able to take advantage of our mistakes and get some easy points,” Fantanarosa said.

The second half was déjà vu for the RedHawks as Eastern Michigan opened with another run and jumped out to a 50-38 advantage at the 13:51 mark. Miami mounted a comeback and cut the lead to 59-53 with just under nine minutes to play, but that was as close as it would get as Eastern pulled away to pick up its fourth victory in a row.

“This is just one loss and it isn’t going to make a big difference unless we allow it to,” Fantanarosa said. “The most important thing going forward is that we continue to develop.”

The RedHawks will have a week off to prepare and regroup after a tough loss, but their concentration will continue to be on the fundamentals that have been invaluable to their victories thus far.

“Our two biggest focuses this year, which have been the biggest parts of our success, have been defense and rebounding,” Osborn said. “Our defense is going to win us games and we’re going to focus on getting back to that.”

The ‘Hawks return home for their next game against Northern Illinois University at 1 p.m. Saturday. Millett Hall will be a welcome sight for Miami as the Red and White have won 12 of 13 on their home court this season and will look to continue their winning ways there against the Huskies.

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