Eastern Michigan's zone-defense disrupts Cardinal intensity

Ypsilanti, mich - The first half of Saturday's game at Eastern Michigan showed promise that the women's basketball team might have overcome zone-defense woes that have hampered its offense all season.

Junior Tamara Bowie came out aggressively, scoring 17 points in the first half on the way to leading the Cardinals to a 43-31 halftime lead. But Bowie - who has consistently struggled against a zone defense all year - had trouble finding the basket in the second half after Eastern Michigan head coach Suzy Merchant made adjustments. Bowie hit only 3-8, scoring seven points in the final period.

"I definitely think Eastern took (Bowie) out of her game," head coach Tracy Roller said. "She was not as aggressive as she was the first half. They just shut her down in the second half."

Merchant said she made the adjustment at half time to put more pressure on the high post, feeling her team had a height advantage on the wings that would make it difficult for Ball State point guards to see the open man.

"We felt like we had to be able to make our matchup (zone) work," Merchant said. "We worked hard to not to let them get easy looks off the skip (passes) and off the high post."

With the added pressure from Eastern in the second half, Ball State failed to attack the gaps with dribble penetration. Eastern's guards tightened their defense and denied Ball State guards from turning the corner to see open skip passes and cutters. Eastern shut down the high-low play that worked in the first half, forcing Ball State into taking rushed, outside shots.

"I think they were putting a lot more pressure on us than they were in the first half," Roller said. "The pressure really threw our guards. They are bigger in the guard spot and they were pressuring us and we couldn't really see the high post."


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