A hot start wasn't enough for the Runnin Royals as they fell 62-56 to Randolph in Harrisonburg Saturday afternoon.
EMU's basketball men (3-11/1-4 ODAC) scored on four of their first five possessions to take a quick lead, before an 8-0 spurt bumped their early margin to 17-7. But then the Royals went cold. The men scored just five points over the final 13:32 of the half, allowing Randolph (6-9/2-4 ODAC) to close on a 21-5 push, jumping in front 28-22.
The Royals were efficient from outside in the second, hitting 5-of-12 attempts, and they only made six turnovers, but Randolph held their edge by only making three miscues in the final 20 minutes and then going 10-15 from the free throw line.
A triple from Mizz Nyagwegwe (Norristown, Pa./Dock Mennonite Academy) gave EMU their only lead in the second half, 35-34 at the 12:53 mark. But the WildCats answered with a quick jumper to go back in front, and rattled off six straight points to build a little cushion.
The margin stayed at one or two possessions most of the half until Randolph earned their biggest lead at 57-49 with 1:13 to go.
The Royals made a final push, getting within 59-56 on a three pointer from Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) with 20 seconds left. But Randolph made three-of-four free throws and the men turned the ball over twice to produce the final six-point margin.
Eastern Mennonite gave another solid defensive effort, holding the WildCats to just 32.8% shooting. Randolph shot only 4-21 from three point range, including missing all nine of their attempts in the second half. The biggest difference was a -10 turnover margin, as the WildCats made just three miscues all game, leading to an 18-3 edge in points off turnovers.
Nyagwegwe notched career highs with 17 points and eight rebounds. DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton) added 13 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. Jones scored 12 as both he and Josh Whelan (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) had three assists.
Brian Smith topped Randolph with 17 points and six assists. Jerry Goodman added 14 points.
The Runnin Royals stay at home on Wednesday, hosting No. 4 Randolph-Macon on Wednesday night.