The Runnin Royals shot a scorching 63% after halftime and ended the game on a 9-2 run, clinching a 75-68 ODAC win at Ferrum Wednesday night.
Tied at 66-66, junior Jamel Howard (Leesburg, Va./Tuscarora) canned a huge three pointer with 1:17 to play, putting EMU in front and triggering the big ending. The men forced a pair of turnovers in the final minute and improved to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the ODAC.
Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire) put in a layup with 45 second to go, and after an FC miss, point guard Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) was fouled after grabbing his 10th rebound. Jones hit both free throws for a 73-66 margin with 30 seconds left, essentially closing the door.
Clower answered a Panther bucket with two more free throws with 20 second to go and Tariq Caldwell (Richmond, Va./Lee-Davis) picked out a steal to wrap it up.
The second half erased a chilly first, with EMU trailing 34-27 at the break.
Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md./Northern) scored back-to-back buckets to start the final 20 and Clower capped a 7-0 start with a three-point play, tying the score at 34-34 at the 15:40 mark.
The Panthers kept their edge and rebuilt the lead up to 48-40, but Thomas got loose inside again to start another 7-0 steak. A Josh Good (Luray, Va./Luray) triple with 7:03 remaining capped an 11-2 burst, giving EMU their first lead since the opening two minutes, 51-50.
The teams traded buckets and leads until the 66-66 tie, setting up the Royals' dominating final 1:17.
Eastern Mennonite hit 17-of-27 shots in the second half, including 4-of-6 threes, and finished with a comfortable shooting edge, 52.8% to 43.1%. They also connected on 7-of-15 long balls. The Royals had a 33-29 win in the battle of the boards.
Clower led a balanced attack with 15 points while Thomas scored 14 on 7-for-8 shooting. Caldwell also hit double digits with 10 points and seven rebounds. Howard put in eight with five assists. Jones' 10 rebounds were the second time in the past three games he hit double digit boards.
Good netted all nine of his points during a three-minute span in the second half. DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton) added eight counters.
Rashad Reed led Ferrum with 19 points, although the Royals limited him to four in the second half. Marcus Huff and Nick Helton contributed 13 and 12 off the bench, respectively.
Eastern Mennonite gets the weekend off before next Wednesday's tough road game at Emory & Henry. The Wasps won last year's ODAC Championship.