EMU Shoots Past Averett In Season-Opening Win, 90-74

Sammy Thomas was a driving force and broke his career high in points. (photo by Scott Eyre)
Sammy Thomas was a driving force and broke his career high in points. (photo by Scott Eyre)

After Tuesday's solid exhibition effort at JMU, the Runnin Royals officially opened the season Thursday night at Averett. Using the confidence they built against the D-I Dukes, EMU rolled over Averett by a final of 90-74.

Eastern Mennonite's basketball men trailed for a mere two minutes early in the game and led by as many as 30, shooting a scorching 56.6% for the big win.

It also marked a successful debut for Coach Melvin Felix, who earned a victory in his first official game as a collegiate head coach.

Now 1-0, EMU gets a much tougher challenge next Tuesday, playing at Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va. The experienced Eagles were picked second in the Capital Athletic Conference after finishing 19-8 last year.

The Royals had a slow start against Averett, committing five turnovers over the opening 5:23. After cutting down on the miscues, the men took off, scoring 10 straight to jump ahead 15-7. The Cougars hit a triple, but the run continued to 17-3, building a 21-10 cushion.

The momentum continued the remainder of the half. EMU had the lead as high as 37-20 before settling into a 43-29 margin at halftime.

Eastern Mennonite continued their torrid shooting pace, ballooning the lead to 67-37.

Averett made a few jabs, eventually getting within 14 in the closing minute, but the Cougars simply could not stop the men from scoring.

Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md./Northern) led four Royals in double figures, as the big man dumped in a career high 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting. He was 7-10 from the free throw line and hauled in a game high eight rebounds. Sophomore Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) also had a breakout effort, blowing past his career high with 18 points.

DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton) made every two-point shot he attempted and scored 14, while Josh Good (Luray, Va./Luray) also came off the bench to hit double figures at 11 points.

Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire) broke his career high with his six assists and tied his high with two blocks. Tariq Caldwell (Richmond, Va./Lee-Davis) added six rebounds, while guard Xavier McCants (Olney, Md./Sherwood) chipped in five boards and four assists.

Eastern Mennonite hit 30-of-53 shots, getting an assist on 22 of the makes. They also went 25-36 from the free throw line. Averett was limited to 28-for-72 shooting for 38.9%.

Ian Best led the Cougars off the bench with 16 points, five assists and three blocked shots.