EMU led for more than twice as much time as visiting Roanoke, but the Maroons snuck out an overtime decision, 63-60.
The Runnin Royals held Roanoke to just 20 points in the first half, and earned the biggest lead by either team, but came up short in their upset bid in their first game after the Christmas break.
Eastern Mennonite hits the road on Wednesday, playing at Shenandoah University at 7:00pm.
The men's slow offensive start against the Maroons was balanced out by their top-notch defensive effort, holding Roanoke to just one field goal, and three total points, over the opening 7:35 of the game. Back-to-back three pointers bumped EMU to an 11-5 lead midway through the first.
The visitors snuck back in front by a single point until the Royals held them scoreless over the final 3:56 of the half. EMU put in the final six of the period to take a 25-20 lead into the break.
Unselfish passing triggered a 7-2 run in the second, with Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) assisting DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton) for a 36-28 lead, the biggest for either team in the game. The Maroons quickly shaved into the margin, but EMU held on to the lead until a Tripp Greene layup finally got the visitors ahead at 44-43.
Tie Evans (Henrico, Va./Steward School) hit three pointers on back-to-back possessions, and then assisted Hill on the next trip down the court, but EMU could only gain a slight 51-49 lead.
Over the next few minutes, both teams went cold from the floor, with single free throws eventually nudging Roanoke ahead 54-52. Evans fed Hill for a bucket as the men locked the score up with 1:07 left in regulation.
Tough defense forced a pair of missed buckets from Roanoke's Caleb Jordan over the final minute, while Josh Whelan (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) came up empty despite a good bit of contact on EMU's possession, and the game slipped into overtime.
The Royals won the opening tip in the extra five minutes and took the first lead when Jones dished to Jamel Howard (Leesburg, Va./Tuscarora) for a lay-in. Roanoke got an offensive putback before Evans drilled his fourth three pointer of the day to keep EMU up, 59-56.
But the men wouldn't hit another field goal over the final 3:49 and Roanoke scored the next five points to get in front. Whelan had a chance to tie it with 18 seconds remaining, but missed two free throws.
The Maroons returned the favor by missing three-of-four free throws over the final 16 seconds, but Hill's runner from midcourt at the buzzer was short, leaving the visitors with the three-point decision.
Eastern Mennonite's defense held Roanoke to 40% shooting for the game, including less than 30% in the first half and overtime. The men also had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio with 15 assists against 14 turnovers. The Royals connected on 8-of-19 three pointers for a season high 42%, but shot just 13-for-36 from inside the arc and 10-22 from the free throw line.
Hill led the charge with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Evans scored 12 points, setting career highs with four three balls as well as three assists.
Mizz Nyagwegwe (Norristown, Pa./Dock Mennonite Academy) had eight points and seven rebounds. Whelan chipped in seven points with a career high four assists. Jones also had four assists.
Jordan led Roanoke with 18 points. Greene added 15 off the bench and Kasey Draper scored 14.
EMU slipped to 2-10 (0-3 ODAC) while the Maroons improved to 8-4 (2-1 ODAC).