Rebounding made the difference on Saturday when the EMU basketball women took their first loss of the season, a 64-61 decision at the hands of visiting Penn State Altoona. The Lions scored the final eight points of the game, utilizing a pair of key offensive rebounds in the last minute.
EMU falls to 2-1 with the loss, as they prepare for their first road games of 2017-18. The Royals play at Frostburg State Tuesday afternoon at 4:00pm, followed by a game at Mount Aloysius next Saturday.
It was a streaky game against Penn State Altoona, which included a 14-5 hole just six minutes in.
The Royals caught fire from the outside to erase the deficit, with a three pointer from Lindsey Krisak (Alexandria, Va./Thomas A. Edison) tying the score at 18-18 seconds into the second period. That triggered a 25-point frame, as the women splashed in six of their nine triples in the 10-minute frame. Krisak assisted Chrissy Delawder (Broadway, Va./Broadway) on a fast break bucket in the final seconds to give EMU a 40-30 cushion at halftime. The women had a 36-15 surge over the final 14 minutes of the half.
Penn State Altoona opened the third with a three ball, and the complexion of the game quickly changed. The women still had the lead at 44-37 after a layup from Brianna Zook (Harrisonburg, Va./Broadway) with 5:44 left in the third, but they would not score again in the period. Penn State Altoona dumped in the final 11 points to take a 48-44 edge into the final frame. The visitors had owned the third, out-scoring the Royals 18-4.
EMU turned to Jess Washington (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge) for offense in the fourth. In one stretch, the junior scored eight straight of her team's points. Washington put the Royals in front 57-56 with a layup at the 4:29 mark before sinking two free throws to put the lead at three. Zook converted inside to bump the margin to 61-56 with 1:53 to play.
The Lions answered with a bucket. Then, after the teams traded empty possessions, Penn State Altoona's Shannon Zimmerman was fouled after an offensive rebound, putting in both free throws to get her team within one with 55 seconds to go.
The women missed a contested layup, but then carelessly fouled again after the rebound. Paige Burke hit one-of-two to tie the score, but Zimmerman was there again for an offensive board, drawing a quick foul for another trip to the stripe. She hit the second toss to give the Lions a 62-61 lead with 43 seconds showing.
EMU pushed the ball up and Kailey Landis (Harrisonburg, Va./Broadway) thought she had a fast break chance, but Zimmerman struck again, this time with a blocked shot. Penn State Altoona took some time off the clock before Finnley Christine drove in and made a critical layup on a tough attempt, bumping the margin to three points with 16 seconds to go.
The Royals called a timeout with 10 seconds left to set up a play in the half court, but it broke down and Landis forced up a three as time expired. The long attempt stayed left and bounced away, leaving the Lions with the win.
Eastern Mennonite shot just 27.6% from the floor after halftime, and missed all five of their attempts from outside. For the game, the Royals shot 33.8%, compared to 33.3% for Penn State Altoona. But the Lions earned their edge with a 52-36 rebounding advantage, including 17-7 on the offensive glass.
Washington finished with 19 points, missing her career high by one point. Landis added 11 points off the bench. Krisak was 3-for-6 from downtown for her nine points. Zook chipped in eight while Emily McCombs (Culpeper, Va./Eastern View) had six points and a team best six rebounds.
Christine and Burk each had 13 points and five assists to pace the Lions. Zimmerman had 11 points and 12 rebounds, including nine offensive.