The Runnin Royals broke out of their recent slump in a big way on Saturday, shooting a season-best 57.6% from the floor as they blew past visiting Randolph College, 94-63. Snapping a four-game losing skid, Eastern Mennonite (10-13/4-10 ODAC) hopes to build a little momentum heading into the final week of the season.
The men play at Roanoke and Emory & Henry this week and still have an outside chance of earning an ODAC Tournament First Round home game. EMU would likely need to win both of their remaining games, along with getting the right combination of losses from Shenandoah and Washington and Lee, who sit in a two-way tie for eighth place and the final First Round home game.
Regardless of where, the Royals will play in the First Round on Monday, Feb. 20. The men's quarterfinals are Thursday, Feb. 23, in Salem, Va.
Just three days removed from scoring a season-low 54 and shooting just 1-for-19 from three in a loss at Bridgewater, Eastern Mennonite exploded on offense against Randolph (7-16/4-10 ODAC). The men found their rhythm midway through the first half and never cooled off, finishing with season highs of 34-59 from the floor (57.6%) and 12-23 from outside (52.2%).
Helping to trigger the offensive flow, the Runnin Royals tied their season high with 14 steals and got into their transition game. The men earned a 30-10 advantage in points off turnovers.
EMU trailed 6-2 early, before throwing a quick three-minute shutout on the WildCats to flip to a 12-6 lead. Randolph scored on back-to-back possessions to get back within two points, but EMU's bench scored a 7-0 spurt to increase the lead to 19-10.
The visitors had one last gasp, trimming the margin to 22-18 at the 8:12 mark, before the Royals took off.
RaShawn Latimer (Warrenton, Va./Kettle Run) scored on an offensive putback and then the men hit a triple on three straight possessions to blow open a 33-20 lead. By the time Jerome Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) canned a three pointer with 12 seconds left in the half, Eastern Mennonite had exploded to a 45-25 cushion.
The Runnin Royals ended the half on a game-changing 23-7 run.
Randolph got aggressive to start the second, scoring the first seven points. But Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md./St. Maria Goretti) worked inside for EMU's first bucket of the half and that ended the visitor's momentum.
The men didn't let the lead below 17 the rest of the way, with the final 31-point margin their biggest win of the season.
Latimer topped the attack with 21 points, as he has scored 19 or more in four of the last five games. Khalil Davis (Harrisonburg, Va./Spotswood) tied his career best with three triples and scored 13. Jones tallied 10 counters. Also with big efforts off the bench were Darius Johnson (Altavista, Va./Altavista) with nine points, and Xavier McCants (Olney, Md./Sherwood) and Williams who each scored seven.
Good pulled down a team-best eight rebounds in his second career start.
Colton Lee scored 12 to lead Randolph in scoring. Ryan Fields added 10 and seven rebounds as the men held the WildCats leading scorer to seven points below his season average.
Assistant coach Melvin Felix said EMU's halfcourt defense made the difference in the win: