The Eastern Mennonite University men's basketball team dropped a 74-56 decision on Saturday afternoon against visiting Emory & Henry College. The loss drops the Royals to an overall record of 10-14, and 5-11 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
EMU's men will take the No. 9 seed into next week's ODAC Tournament, and play at No. 8 Bridgewater College on Tuesday at 7:00. The winner advances to Salem and will play first-seeded Randolph-Macon on Friday afternoon at 1:00 in the quarterfinals.
Getting to play at Bridgewater in the First Round gives the Runnin Royals a big opportunity to overcome two close losses to the Eagles. In the first meeting of the two teams (Jan. 3), Bridgewater traveled to Yoder Arena and snuck away with an 81-80 overtime victory. In the second game between the Valley's crosstown rivals (Feb. 7), Bridgewater came up with a game-winning layup in the final seconds to walk off with a 68-66 win.
Against Emory & Henry (19-6/11-5 ODAC), the Royals gave up the first two baskets and fell in an 11-5 hole after 4:27 of play. Less than two minutes later, the Runnin Royals stormed back and cut the deficit to one after a 7-0 spurt, which was sparked by DJ Hill (Woodbridge. Va. / Hylton) with back-to-back buckets, followed up with a trey from Travis Clower (Romney, W.V. / Hampshire).
Emory & Henry went on to gain momentum, going on a 19-3 run for a 30-15 advantage with 7:06 remaining. The Royals headed to the lockers down 43-26.
After the break, E&H scored eight of the first 12 points of the period creating a gap for its first 20-point lead of the contest at 51-30. EMU came within 12 points, but the Wasps would eventually put the game out of reach after pushing the cushion back to 20 with 4:29 to play, never looking back on the home team.
Overall, both teams shot a similar game, with EMU shooting 40.0% from the floor compared to E&H's 41.3%. Both teams struggled from beyond the arc as EMU went 4-for-19 (21.1%) and E&H only hitting a trio of triples for 18.8% on the night.
The Royals posted a 45-40 rebounding advantage, but the Wasps held a slight 10-7 margin on second-chance points. E&H led 28-4 on points off turnovers, forcing the Royals into 24 miscues while only committing eight of their own.
Hill came off the bench and was good for 12 points, going 4-for-7 from the floor. Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md. / St. Maria Goretti) added 11 points and dished out a couple of assists.
Alic Wynn led the way for the Wasps, putting up 18 points and grabbing 12 boards. Daniel Spencer added 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Saturday's game also marked Senior Recognition night for the Royals. Before tipoff, a ceremony took place honoring Maleke Jones (Charles Town, W.V. / Washington), Jerome Jones (Charles Town, W.V. / Washington), RaShawn Latimer (Warrenton, Va. / Kettle Run), Kendall Hawkins (Charlottesville, Va. / Albemarle), and Harris-Winn for their commitment to the program over the past four years.
Between the five of them, they have a combined 275 starts and have played in 440 games of EMU basketball. Harris-Winn has scored 1.041 career points, while Latimer is likely to break the barrier soon with 997 after tonight.