Junior DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton) exploded for a career high 31 points, including the game-winning jumper with six seconds remaining, as the EMU basketball men earned an 80-79 ODAC win at Shenandoah Wednesday night.
Hill was unstoppable, shooting 13-of-15 from the floor. Even with the Hornets employing a zone to clog up the interior, the forward was able to find creases in the defense. His high percentage effort sparked the Runnin Royals best shooting game of the season, as they hit 51.5% of their attempts.
Eastern Mennonite (3-10/1-3 ODAC) was in control much of the contest, although their defensive lapses gave Shenandoah (5-8/2-2 ODAC) enough openings to make for the end game drama.
The men hope to continue the momentum Saturday afternoon when they host Randolph at 2:00pm in Yoder Arena. EMU's women host Hollins following the men's game on Saturday.
After giving up the first six points of the night, the Runnin Royals scored eight straight to get in front. Later in the half, the men made back-to-back-to-back three pointers during a 15-1 streak that blew open a 37-20 margin. But the Hornets scored the next nine points and were within 41-35 at halftime.
EMU clung to the lead most of the second half, but never by more than eight points. Shenandoah finally got back in front with a field goal at the 8:06 mark, going up 67-65. The teams traded buckets for the next six minutes until SU added a single free throw with 1:27 to go, earning their biggest lead of the half at 77-73.
With the shot clock winding down on the Royals ensuing possession, Hill came through in the clutch with a huge three-point play, slicing the margin to one. On the defensive end, he blocked a shot by SU's Christopher Chaney that turned into a fastbreak lay-in from Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) to flip EMU in front, 78-77.
Zach Garrett put the Hornets back up by one with 27 seconds left, setting up EMU's final possession where Hill popped a six-foot jumper from the right baseline.
The final six seconds featured three timeouts, before Hill and senior Jamel Howard (Leesburg, Va./Tuscarora) teamed up to pick out a steal as the Hornets tried to get the ball down low to Chaney on an inbounds play.
Great team play triggered EMU's offense and the win. Each of the eight Royals who played more than a few seconds had at least one assist. The men earned a season high 18 assists while committing a season low nine turnovers. It was their second straight game with more assists than turnovers and third out of their last five.
Hill's 31 points were nearly twice as much as his previous career high of 16 points. He made all five of his free throw attempts and led all players with nine rebounds. Jones finished with 18 points, including 14 in the first half.
Garrett led SU off the bench with 17 points. Chaney and Jalen Hill each scored 15 and combined for 13 rebounds.