Hood College turned on the defense over the final four minutes of Sunday's game, scoring the final 12 points to send EMU's basketball men to a 74-62 loss. The Runnin Royals allowed an opponent to shoot 51% for the second straight day, as they came home from the Rotary of Frederick Holiday Classic with a pair of losses.
Eastern Mennonite (5-5) has a couple of days to make some changes before hosting Ferrum College on Wednesday in Yoder Arena. That will be the final pre-Christmas game for EMU, as the men get a small break over the holiday before returning to action at D-I James Madison University on Dec. 28.
Against Hood (10-1), the Royals watched an up-and-down effort unravel late, after RaShawn Latimer (Warrenton, Va./Kettle Run) tied the score at 62-62 with 4:12 to play. The Blazers answered with a three pointer to re-gain the lead, and then clamped down on EMU.
The men committed four turnovers while missing their final four shots. Hood, meanwhile, patiently worked the clock and scored 12 unanswered points to close the game, earning the final 12-point margin.
Eastern Mennonite had scored the first five of the game, eventually exploding to a 16-6 lead as twins Jerome Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) and Maleke Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) combined for back-to-back-to-back three pointers in a span of just 54 seconds midway through the first half.
Hood ended the period much like they ended the game, out-scoring EMU 28-8, including the final seven, to grab a 34-24 margin at halftime.
The Runnin Royals drilled four triples during a 14-4 run in the second, with Latimer hitting the final bomb to re-take a 58-56 lead with 7:55 to play. But the men scored just four more points the rest of the way.
Despite shooting 14-for-37 for 37.8% from three-point range, EMU was just 10-for-27 from inside the arc and did not make a single trip to the free throw line. The 62 points was a season-low for a team still averaging 83.3 points per game.
The men did have 11 steals to force 26 turnovers, but also gave up 16 offensive rebounds to Hood and were out-rebounded 45-23. The Blazers shot 51.0% on 26-for-51 from the floor.
Latimer hit 5-of-7 attempts from long range and led all scorers with 19 points. He was the Royals' lone honoree on the All-Tournament Team after scoring 10 points with five rebounds and four assists in Saturday's 80-79 loss to Stockton.
Maleke Jones was 4-for-8 from outside and added 14 points and a game high five assists. Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md./St. Maria Goretti) scored 10 points, while Jerome Jones worked his way to eight points and six rebounds, but the rest of the team combined for just 11 points.
Luke Casey racked up 13 rebounds and 10 points to lead Hood and earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Scott Bolen added 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals and was named MVP of the classic.