EMU Takes Down Top Seeded R-MC, Advances To Semifinals

Coach Kirby Dean and RaShawn Latimer (11) celebrate their upset of Randolph-Macon in the ODAC Tournament. (Holly Marcus/Sideline Media)
Coach Kirby Dean and RaShawn Latimer (11) celebrate their upset of Randolph-Macon in the ODAC Tournament. (Holly Marcus/Sideline Media)

With 7.7 seconds left, senior Maleke Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) hit the go-ahead layup to capture a 56-54 victory against No. 1 Randolph-Macon College in the ODAC Tournament Quarterfinals.

With the upset, ninth-seeded Eastern Mennonite (12-14) advances to the semifinals for the first time since 2015, where they will take on No. 4 Emory & Henry (20-6) Saturday at 6:00pm in the Salem Civic Center. The Wasps took down No. 12 Randolph, 82-69.

Click here to see an interactive bracket of the ODAC Tournament. 

The Yellow Jackets came out hot and started the game with an early 7-0 run, forcing an EMU timeout. Christian Hansen (Manassas Park, Va./Osbourn Park) caused an R-MC ball handling mishap, allowing Maleke Jones to come up with a quick steal and drive to the hole. The Royals closed to within three at 9-6 before R-MC had another 7-0 spurt to take a 16-6 lead with 11:30 remaining in the first. 

At the 6:10 mark, Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md./Northern) sparked a 7-1 run to cut the deficit to five at 22-17. The Yellow Jackets responded on the other end to extend the margin to ten at 29-19, but it was the Royals who ran with momentum to end the first half, finishing with a 6-1 run to make it 30-25 at the break. 

The Runnin Royals held the Yellow Jackets to 35.5% (11-for-31) from the floor and just 25.0% (3-for-12) from beyond the arc. R-MC was able to make up for its poor shooting due to an 11-3 advantage in turnovers and 9-1 effort in steals. 

R-MC used a three-point play to start the second half followed by a jumper to extend the lead to 35-25 with 17:45 left. The Yellow Jackets led by 38-31 before a couple of three-pointers sandwiched a 15-footer to give R-MC a 46-31 advantage with 13:05 to play. 

From there the Royals responded with a 20-4 run, starting with back-to-back treys from Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md./St. Maria Goretti) and RaShawn Latimer (Warrenton, Va./Kettle Run). The comeback was fueled by Harris-Winn, who contributed eight points, while Maleke Jones added seven. EMU found its first lead of the game at 51-50 with 3:50 left. 

A jumper on the other end put the Yellow Jackets back on top, but that didn't last long as Latimer found his form and hit a three-pointer to give the Royals a 54-52 edge with 47.4 seconds left. R-MC played out their next possession pulled down an offensive rebound as the shot fell short. Eventually, the top seed tied the game with a layup and 17.9 seconds remaining. 

After a timeout on the floor, it was EMU's ball underneath R-MC's basket. Hansen inbounded the ball to Maleke Jones who took it to the hole for the game-winner. 

EMU's offense exploded in the second half for a 12-of-23 (52.2%) field goal performance and a 7-for-12 (58.3%) shooting effort from three. Overall, R-MC shot 36.2% from the field and 31.6% from three. 

Maleke Jones led all scorers with 22 points and six rebounds. Harris-Winn found his way to another double-double and ended with 15 points and 10 boards. Latimer added 11 points and dished out three assists. 

The Runnin Royals saw Emory & Henry twice in the regular season. The Wasps commanded both games, with the first on Jan. 20 and an 83-62 decision. The rematch was held on Feb. 17 and finished with a final score of 74-56.

Coach Kirby Dean comments on the men's performance: