Facing a much different opponent than they did in Friday night's game at the EMU Tip-Off Invitational, the Runnin Royals gritted out a 62-59 win over Mount Aloysius.
The men had played a high-tempo, foul-laden game against No. 16 New Jersey City on Friday, eventually falling to the Gothic Knights 76-67 despite leading much of the game. But against a Mount Aloysius team which dressed just seven men playing their second game in less than 24 hours, the Runnin Royals faced a steady diet of slow-them-down zone defense.
EMU (2-2) hit enough shots in the first half to build a small margin, connecting on 7-of-16 three pointers. A three ball from Xavier McCants (Olney, Md./Sherwood) gave the men an early 15-8 lead before the Mounties (1-3) scored the next eight to get in front.
The teams traded leads until Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire) cashed in on three free throws in the final minute to put EMU on top at the break, 28-26.
Eastern Mennonite never trailed in the second half, but also could never pull away. Michael Williams (Richmond, Va./Varina) converted on the fast break with 11:10 to play for a 46-40 lead. The men finally edged it to seven points after a pair of Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) free throws with 2:04 remaining made it 58-51.
Free throws made the difference down the stretch, as the Royals scored their final eight points from the line, including four over the final 28 seconds.
Defense was the name of the game for both teams, with EMU holding a slight shooting edge at 40% to 37%. The men made 17-of-26 free throws, compared to 12-of-15 for MAC.
Clower led the balanced attack with 14 points and four assists. Jones was busy at the stripe, sinking 9-of-12 free throws on his way to 12 points. Williams added a career high 12 points, including three triples in the first half. McCants finished with nine points.
Tariq Caldwell (Richmond, Va./Lee-Davis) and DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton) did good work inside. Caldwell finished with eight points, six rebounds and three steals. Hill led the team with nine boards, adding seven points.
Julian Stover led Mount Aloysius with 21 points and four assists. He had played the entire game until fouling out with 28 seconds remaining.
The Runnin Royals play at home again on Tuesday, hosting Wilson College at 7:00pm. It's a doubleheader with the EMU women, who host Southern Virginia at 4:00pm.