Atwater Sinks EMU Women In ODAC Title Game

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Raiven Patterson hit 4-of-7 free throws and led EMU with 12 points in the ODAC Championship game. (photo by James De Boer)

Guilford's Brittany Atwater (Durham, NC/Ravenscroft) hit the game-winning layup with 6.9 seconds left in the ODAC Championship game, sending the top-seeded EMU women to a 61-59 loss.  Steph Rheinheimer (Manheim, PA/Lancaster Mennonite) missed a contested baseline jumper at the buzzer as the Royals end the year at 21-6.

Eastern Mennonite had a program-best 14-game winning streak snapped with the loss.  The Royals, who ended the season as the No. 5 team in the South Region, sit on the bubble for an at-large NCAA Tournament berth and await the selection show webcast Monday at 2:30pm.

The Royals had beaten the Quakers twice during the regular season, but struggled to slow down GC from the start of the ODAC Championship.  Guilford scored first on Sunday and jumped ahead 10-3 early on.  EMU responded quickly with a 9-2 run, tying the game at 12-12, and the battle was on.  The second-seeded Quakers went back in front, but the women scored the final three of the first half to get within two at the break, 36-34.

Keyla Baltimore (Bristow, VA/Brentsville District) converted a three-point to cap a 7-0 run, giving Eastern Mennonite their first lead of the day at 42-40 with 15:20 remaining.  Kala Yoders (Myerstown, PA/Eastern Lebanon County) helped lead another 5-0 run later on which gave the Royals their biggest lead at 51-45 with 7:27 to go.

Atwater hit a layup to tie the score at 54-54 with 3:15 left, but Yoders connected on two free throws to keep EMU in front.  GC's Gabby Oglesby (Winston-Salem, NC/Mount Tabor), who had been in foul trouble all game, answered with a jumper and two free throws to see-saw the Quakers back up 58-56 with 1:20 remaining.

Yoders missed a shot on the Royals' next possession, and Atwater made one of two free throws with 48 seconds left, making it 59-56.  Steph Rheinheimer then rolled off a screen and locked the game up with a big three pointer with 32 seconds to go, setting up the final possessions of the contest.

Eastern Mennonite took great care of the ball, committing only seven turnovers while forcing 17 on the Quakers.  But EMU was out-shot 42% to 36% and out-rebounded 43-26.  The women also struggled from the free throw line, making 20-of-33 for 61%.  Guilford was 16-for-20 for 80%.

Raiven Patterson (Pulaski, VA/Pulaski County) led the Royals with 12 points and three assists.  Shakeerah Sykes (Dumfries, VA/Forest Park) added 10 and eight boards.  Baltimore and Bianca Ygarza (Conestoga, PA/Penn Manor) each had seven points and three assists.  Jess Rheinheimer (Manheim, PA/Lancaster Mennonite) put in eight points.

Starting guard Alisa Brown (Dumfries, VA/Forest Park) missed the game with an injury sustained Saturday against Lynchburg in the ODAC Semifinals.

With Oglesby in foul trouble, Morgan King (Teachey, NC/New Hanover) picked up the scoring slack inside for the Quakers, hitting a double double with 20 points and 14 rebounds.  Atwater scored 13, with her final two points deciding the game.

Keyla Baltimore and Raiven Patterson were both named to the ODAC All-Tournament Team, joining GC's Atwater and King.  Oglesby was named the MVP.  Baltimore scored a new career high in the ODAC Quarterfinals (16 points), and then again in the Semifinals (23 points).  The point guard averaged 15.3 points in the tournament after scoring 6.5 per game during the season.  She added 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals.  Patterson saw her minutes increase with Brown's injury and scored double figures in all three postseason games.  She tied a career high with 18 against Lynchburg on Saturday and averaged 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals.

If the Royals fail to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, they will finish with the third-best record in the program history at 21-6.  Their 15-1 mark in ODAC play was best ever, as was their 14-game winning streak.