When Tariq Caldwell (Richmond, Va./Lee-Davis) adeptly kissed a short jumper off the glass on the game's opening possession, Coach Melvin Felix knew his senior forward brought his "A" game. Either that, or Assistant Coach RJ Sims' lucky blue pants were having their effect.
Caldwell finished with 17 rebounds and 12 points for his second straight double double, pushing the EMU basketball men to 65-49 win over visiting Hampden-Sydney Saturday afternoon in Harrisonburg. It gave the Runnin Royals back-to-back double-digit ODAC wins to start the new year, bumping them to 8-6 overall and 3-2 in the league.
Eastern Mennonite stays at home on Wednesday, hosting Washington and Lee University at 7:00pm.
Along with his sixth double-digit scoring effort over the past eight outings, more importantly, Caldwell triggered EMU's defensive effort, including blocking H-SC's first shot. The men held Hampden-Sydney (4-8/1-4 ODAC) to a frigid 19% shooting mark over the first 20 minutes, as the Tigers made just six field goals.
The Runnin Royals, meanwhile, shot 41% for the half and opened up a 10-2 margin on Caldwell's triple 4:26 into play. The lead ballooned to 27-9 when freshman Devin Beckner (Roanoke, Va./Cave Spring) drained his first collegiate three pointer.
EMU kept the Tigers in single digits until 3:29 remained in the first half, when Warren Zager's bucket finally made it 27-11.
Eastern Mennonite led 34-14 at the half.
Hampden-Sydney scored the first four points after the break, but the Royals responded with six straight to quickly quell any thoughts of a comeback. The men had their biggest lead of the night at 40-18 as point guard Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) broke down his defender, starting a quick hitting sequence to Caldwell and then to DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton) for an easy weak side lay-in.
The highlight reel continued less than two minutes later with Jones finding Hill open on the left wing for the big man's first career three pointer.
Hampden-Sydney never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way, as the Royals sealed it by sinking 16-of-24 free throws in the second half.
Caldwell's 17 rebounds spurred EMU to a 47-33 command of the glass. It was also the second straight time he broke his game high for boards.
Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire) hit a trio of longballs and added 9-of-10 free throws to lead all scorers with 18 points. Hill came in with 11 points, five rebounds and a couple of blocked shots. Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md./Northern) scored nine points while Jones added eight.
Hampden-Sydney failed to get an individual in double figures in scoring, with Tyler Thomas leading his team with nine off the bench.
Wednesday's game against Washington and Lee is a V Foundation Game, featuring a donation collected to go to The V Foundation for Cancer Research.