Eastern Michigan Claims MAC Tournament Title - Mar 10, 2012
With each team winning once against one another in the regular season, a third meeting between two MAC schools from Michigan, on a neutral floor, was fitting to decide not only bragging rights, but also the MAC Championship. Natachia Watkins (5'10''-G/F-92) scored 25 points to lead the Eastern Michigan Eagles, but an assist to Paige Redditt (6'1''-F-90) with 1.6 seconds left proved to be the deciding factor as the No. 2 seed Eastern Michigan Eagles (23-8) defeated the No. 5 seed Central Michigan Chippewas (20-15) to win the First Energy MAC Womens Tournament 72-71, and to clinch a spot in the NCAA Womens Tournament. The first half was highly contested throughout with the game hovering around a 3-5 point differential. A late 6-0 first half run gave the Eagles the biggest lead of the game at seven points, but a layup by Central Michigans Skylar Miller (5'10''-F-90) layup in the waning seconds gave Eastern Michigan a 40-35 halftime lead. EMU quickly doubled their lead to 45-35 in the first two minutes of the second half forcing Central Michigan to take a timeout. Coach Sue Guevara timeout paid off as the Chippewas went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to three points. The Chippewas continued to prevent the Eagles from running away with the game. A long outlet pass to Jessica Green (5'10''-G-93) gave Central Michigan their first lead since early in the first half 58-57 with 9:29 remaining in the game. Eastern Michigan answered right back with a Natachia Watkins layup to regain the lead for the Eagles. The lead continued to seesaw back and forth throughout the rest of the game. With CMU leading 69-68, MAC Player of the Year Tavelyn James drew a foul and drained both free throws to give Eastern Michigan the lead. Following another Central Michigan timeout, Crystal Bradford (6'0''-G-93) received the ball at the elbow, dribbled down into the paint, and spun around for a hook shot to give the Chippewas the lead back. James then committed a traveling violation while driving down the sideline giving Central Michigan the ball and forcing the Eagles to put someone on the line. CMUs Jessica Green went to the charity stripe, but missed the front end of the one-and-one. Eastern Michigans Natachia Watkins skied for the rebound to give the Eagles one last chance. Watkins then found Redditt down on the block where the 61 senior found the cylinder to give Eastern Michigan a 72-71 lead with 1.6 seconds left. A Central Michigan desperation heave fell short, and the Eagles bench rushed the court to celebrate their MAC Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament berth. Taylor Johnson scored 20 points to lead all scorers for Central Michigan, who gave a valiant effort but fell just short of winning 5 games in 8 days for their trip to the Big Dance.
Courtesy of MAC
MAC Tournament Final: Central Michigan - E. Michigan 71-72 MAC Tournament Semifinals: Toledo - E. Michigan 57-59 Central Michigan - Bowling Green 69-66
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