Posted: 12:00 p.m. Monday, Dec. 23, 2013
By Matt Daley
Each week throughout the 2013-2014 women's basketball season, Hustle Belt will bestow weekly honors upon the MAC's most outstanding players from each division and from the freshman class. Here are this week's winners...
It was a rather down week for the Mid-American Conference, but there were certainly some bright spots. Eastern Michigan continued to win, as they swept a pair of neutral-site games. Buffalo split a pair of road games, and their loss was in overtime against a very good St. Bonaventure team. Ball State rebounded from a rough loss to highly-ranked Louisville with a nice road win, and Bowling Green routed Massachusetts before pushing Purdue to the limit in a road loss.
Some of the MAC's biggest names, such as Rachel Tecca and Crystal Bradford, had very good weeks. However, with wins in short supply over the last seven days, those counted more this time around.
Here are this week's winners...
As noted above, the Bulls took a tough overtime loss at St. Bonaventure to begin the week. You'll have to remember, though, that Toledo struggled to beat the Bonnies in the same arena a couple of weeks ago, so an overtime loss there for the Bulls is nothing to be ashamed of. Buffalo followed that with a nice eight-point win at Niagara to remain above .500 (6-4) for the season.
Kristen Sharkey was squarely in the middle of both efforts and earned a double-double in each game. Against the Bonnies, she scored 20 points and sank 50 percent of her 14 shots. She also pulled down six offensive rebounds and secured a total of ten. In the win over Niagara, Sharkey's shooting wasn't as sharp, but she sank four of five free throws and scored 12 overall. She was also once again great on the offensive glass, as she earned seven more offensive rebounds and 12 total. In addition, she combined for three assists, three steals and a block with just three turnovers in the two games.
With apologies to Crystal Bradford, who was truly impressive in scoring 30 points against Notre Dame yesterday, Eastern Michigan was the only team to emerge from the last week with no losses. They traveled to Stony Brook for a weekend tournament, with games against Wagner and Monmouth, and won both games to improve their overall record to 9-1. Once again, the Eagles hold the best record in the conference.
Desyree Thomas had two very solid games to help the Eagles earn the weekend sweep. In EMU's 13-point win over Wagner, Thomas scored 17 points and shot 8-for-14 from the floor. She also secured five rebounds, including four on offense, and had four steals. EMU followed that win with an 11-point victory over Monmouth. In that game, Thomas again scored in double figures with 11 points. She also contributed six rebounds, six assists and another four steals.
When you combine the two games, Thomas shot 44 percent and had eight assists, eight steals and two blocks. She also had just one turnover, all in 67 total minutes. That's as effective a two-game stretch of basketball as you'll see from a guard, and it's a big reason why EMU emerged from the week 2-0.
Jill Morrison is making this her personal honor, as she's now captured it in three of the last four weeks. Morrison was one of the better players on the floor against #7 Louisville, and as a freshman, that's really saying something. She poured in 17 points against the Cardinals with the help of three successful long-range shots and 4-for-4 free throw shooting. She also had three rebounds and two assists, while committing just two turnovers in 39 minutes.
The Cardinals rebounded from that 38-point rout by pulling off a nice four-point win at Northern Kentucky. Morrison was relatively quiet in this one, but she did contribute five points, five assists and three more rebounds.