Eastern Mennonite men's basketball team wrapped up tip-off tournament play Saturday night against host Messiah College, but fell late to the Falcons in the championship game. The Runnin Royals and Falcons exchanged leads through the first and second half, but it was MC that maintained the lead through the final minutes for the 74-70 win.
EMU's men made a late surge and showed grit, but a rough start early on proved to be a factor in the loss. The Royals shot 43.9% (25-57) from the field and went 9-27 (33.3%) from three-point range.
Messiah came out firing on all cylinders and went on a 13-0 run in the first four minutes of the game, forcing coach Kirby Dean and the Royals to a timeout.
Senior forward Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md./St. Maria Goretti) answered in a big way by scoring EMU's first eight points of the night, with two three pointers and a layup. Minutes later, Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) and Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire) brought the game within three, but it was then that Colin Sarekya made consecutive threes from beyond the arc taking the game to 22-16 at the 9:48 mark.
Messiah continued to lead 26-23 until Harris-Winn pulled the Royals within one with five minutes left in the first. However, Messiah went on a 10-5 run to finish out the half with a slight advantage over EMU, 38-33.
The Falcons came out strong once again as they took off on a 17-9 run, extending the lead to double digits thanks to a layup by Willie Hope, making it 55-42. Maleke Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) found Clower, and after two lay-ins and a free throw from DJ Hill (Woodbridge. Va./Hylton) the Runnin Royals were back within five.
Senior Maleke Jones gave EMU a little momentum later in the second, scoring on 11 points in a 13-9 run to get the men within 69-67 with 3:11 to go, forcing MC to take a timeout.
Trailing 71-68, EMU was forced to foul Sarekya who drained two to give the Falcons a five-point cushion with 28 seconds left. Josh Darville of MC fouled Clower, who made both free throws to make it a one possession game.
The Falcons in-bounded the ball, which again forced EMU to foul. Only one shot was knocked down on the other end making it a two possession game and leaving the Royals out of time to pull off a win.
The men edged Messiah in rebounds 39-35, but couldn't stop the Falcons from shooting 46.4% overall with 9-for-19 from three.
Harris-Winn and Clower led the way in Saturday's effort and earned All-Tournament honors.
Harris-Winn earned his first double double of the year with 19 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, and a steal. Clower stroked in 4-of-7 three pointers and scored 18 points, with four rebounds and an assist.
Although the Runnin Royals battled back continuously throughout the game, the Falcons responded by matching and exceeding EMU's play. The men fall 1-2 on the season and will play in Yoder Arena on Tuesday night against Hood College at 5:30pm.