A big-time defensive effort in the second half fueled the Runnin Royals' 70-56 road win over Hampden-Sydney Saturday afternoon.
EMU's first two-game season sweep of the Tigers since 2008-09 also broke a five-game losing skid and kept the men in the hunt for a home game in the First Round of the upcoming ODAC Tournament. The men beat H-SC in Harrisonburg on Jan. 5, 65-49.
Now 10-13 overall and 5-9 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, the Royals turn their attention to Bridgewater College. EMU hosts the Eagles (11-12/6-8 ODAC) Wednesday night in Yoder Arena in what is the only meeting this season between the two rivals. BC would clinch the final First Round home game with a win, while Eastern Mennonite could be in the driver's seat to host if they win.
Game time on Wednesday is 7:00pm.
After playing to a 33-33 draw after the first 20 minutes against Hampden-Sydney, the Runnin Royals turned on the defense in the second half. Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire) opened the frame with a quick three pointer, and the men never trailed after that, yet the score remained close until midway through the half.
Leading 52-50 with 11:53 to go, EMU's defense limited the Tigers to just three points over the next 9 minutes and 30 seconds. Clower, Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) and Xavier McCants (Olney, Md./Sherwood) did most of the damage on the offensive end, with Clower picking out a steal and going in for a layup to push the lead to 69-53.
Hampden-Sydney finally put in a field goal with 2:23 to go, ending EMU's prolonged 17-3 run, but it was far too late. The Runnin Royals held H-SC to just six points over the final 11:53 of play, closing the game on an 18-6 streak.
All told, the men clamped the Tigers to 32% shooting (9-28) after halftime, and 38% for the game. Eastern Mennonite connected on 15-of-27 shots in the second half for 56%, finishing at 47% overall.
Jones, Clower and McCants combined to score 28 of EMU's 37 points in the second. Leading the way was Jones, who broke 20 points for the first time, finishing with a career best 22. The point guard also had five rebounds and four assists. Clower chipped in 11 counters with two steals, while McCants added seven points, six boards and four assists.
Chaise Johnson led Hampden-Sydney with 18 points.