The Runnin Royals completed a big week with a second straight ODAC road win, taking down Randolph College by a final of 70-63 on Saturday.
Combined with Wednesday's impressive win at rival Bridgewater, EMU's basketball men improve to 3-8 in ODAC play. More importantly, the Royals move into a three-way tie for ninth place that keeps them firmly in the hunt for a spot in the 10-team ODAC Tournament later this month.
The win over Randolph also avenged a Jan. 11 loss in Harrisonburg, 62-56.
Neither team led by more than four in Saturday's low-scoring first half. DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton) completed a three-point play late in the period to help the Royals lead 28-26 at intermission.
The second half was just as tight until EMU built up a little space after another and-1 from Hill and a three pointer from Tie Evans (Henrico, Va./Steward School) made it 53-47.
With eight minutes yet to play, the pace of the contest ground to a halt as a foul was called on almost every trip down the floor. Despite entering as the worst free throw shooting team in the ODAC, the Runnin Royals nailed 14-of-16 over the final 5:42 of the game. During the same stretch, their defense controlled Randolph to only 12 points to earn the win.
In fact, a three pointer from Evans with 7:17 remaining was EMU's last field goal of the contest.
The men maintained a slight shooting edge over the WildCats and then clinched it at the stripe. The Royals finished 21-of-28 for the team's most made free throws this season and second most attempts. Randolph was just 15-of-24.
Evans led the charge as he hit 4-of-6 three pointers and charted 19 points. He broke his career high scoring total for the third time over the past four games, a stretch where he has shot 15-30 from outside and averaged 14.8 points.
EMU's reserves stepped up in a big way after starting center Josh Whelan (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) left with an injury just five minutes into play. After not playing in the previous three games, Kobi Alexander (Madison, Va./Madison County) hit all four of his shots and scored a career high nine points. Chris Simmons (Culpeper, Va./Culpeper County) chipped in four points and three rebounds.
Zach Hinton led Randolph off the bench with 13 points. Justin Dula had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Royals and their newfound momentum get a big test on Wednesday when they host Virginia Wesleyan in Yoder Arena. The Marlins are ranked No. 18 in this week's D3hoops.com national poll.