A big third period propelled EMU's basketball women to their fifth straight win, an 87-72 decision at Roanoke College on Saturday. The 87 points were a season high for the Royals in an ODAC game, and their second straight outing breaking 80 points.
With four games left in the regular season, Eastern Mennonite (14-6 / 9-3 ODAC) is tied with Emory & Henry for third in the league standings, and sits in the driver's seat of a top four seed and bye into the ODAC Tournament Quarterfinals. Virginia Wesleyan is two games back in fifth place, but the Royals also hold the head-to-head tie-breaker with the Marlins.
EMU comes home for two home games this week, highlighted by rival Bridgewater College on Tuesday night. The Eagles are sixth in the ODAC at 6-6, and beat Eastern Mennonite 84-74 when the two met on Jan. 17 in Bridgewater.
The Royals had a hot start against Roanoke (8-13 / 3-9 ODAC), scoring on their first three possessions for a quick 7-0 lead. Coming in as the highest-scoring team in the ODAC, the Maroons roared right back to tie the game at 9-9. Back-to-back-to-back triples triggered an 11-0 run which put EMU back in front by the end of the period, 26-18.
Roanoke kept within one or two possessions during the second, but a last-second putback from Chloe Roach (Leesburg, Va./Tuscarora) kept the Royals ahead 38-35 at intermission. It also gave them some momentum for the second half.
The women held Roanoke scoreless for the first three minutes after the break while dumping in 10 straight points for a 48-35 cushion. Another 9-0 run late in the frame pushed the margin to its biggest at 65-48. They out-scored RC 28-15 in the third.
The Maroons made a push over the final 10 minutes, however, opening the stretch on a 12-2 run. After the home team got within 68-62, Chrissy Delawder (Broadway, Va./Broadway) hit a big triple with 5:40 to play, bumping the lead back up to 71-62.
Roanoke eventually got within 75-70 with 2:59 remaining, but EMU's defense was stifling down the stretch, allowing just two more points on a layup with 24 seconds left. The Royals closed the game on a 12-2 run, going 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the final 26 seconds.
Roach finished with a game high 25 points, missing her career high by one point. It's the fourth time the freshman has scored 20 or more points. Roach also added eight rebounds, four assists and four steals. Jonae Guest (Dumfries, Va./Potomac) added another double double at 17 points and 13 rebounds. Seven of her rebounds were off the offensive glass.
Myneshia Walker (Freeman, Va./Brunswick) was good for 16 points and seven rebounds, and Delawder scored 11. Jess Washington (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge) blocked a career high three shots. Lexi Deffenbaugh (Fishersville, Va./Wilson Memorial) also had four assists.
Cary Beahm led Roanoke with 21 points. Chris Martin added 19 points and 12 rebounds.
The Maroons actually out-shot EMU 45% to 38%, but the women had a +10 turnover margin and a 20-7 edge in points off turnovers. The Royals were also 24-30 from the free throw line.