Royals Give Up Lead Late In Road Loss

Hope Simmons was a menace to opposing defenders and missed just one shot. (photo by Scott Eyre)
Hope Simmons was a menace to opposing defenders and missed just one shot. (photo by Scott Eyre)

The EMU basketball women let a fourth-quarter lead slip away Saturday afternoon, dropping their first post-Thanksgiving game 81-76 at Mount Aloysius in Cresson, Pa.

After two wins to open the 2017-18 season, the Royals fall to 2-3 with their third straight loss. In two of those, they had a lead in the fourth quarter. The women will look to snap the skid in Tuesday's ODAC opener when they host Randolph College (2-2). Game time in Yoder Arena in 7:00pm.

The game against Mount Aloysius had a bumpy start, with each team managing just two points after more than four minutes of play. The opponents traded leads after that, with the Mounties ending the first period with a lay-up for the biggest lead to that point at 18-14.

EMU scored the first six points in the second to grab the lead, and Emily McCombs (Culpeper, Va./Eastern View) converted a lay-up to cap a 16-5 streak for a 30-23 lead just past the midway point of the period. Mount Aloysius got within four points but the Royals took a 40-33 edge into halftime.

The tempo slowed down in the third, and the home team made a comeback, eventually tying the score at 43-43. Back-to-back threes from Lexi Deffenbaugh (Fishersville, Va./Wilson Memorial) and Chrissy Delawder (Broadway, Va./Broadway) put the margin back up to six. The Royals pushed it up to nine points before settling on a 57-50 lead heading into the fourth.

Delawder opened the final frame with a pair of free throws when things started to unravel. The Mounties chiseled to within 59-55 before freshman Hope Simmons (Dayton, Va./Turner Ashby) hit a jumper and a three ball to push the lead back to 64-57, but Mount Aloysius answered with their own triple to make it a four-point game once again.

The home team later got inside for three buckets in a row, finally re-taking the lead at 66-65. Simmons scored inside, but the Mounties nailed another three to go up 69-67. Taylor Baltimore (Bristow, Va./Battlefield) sunk one-of-two free throws before a MAC jumper put the margin at three points.

Deffenbaugh canned a three pointer to lock the score up at 71-71 with 1:50 to go, but the defense could not get a stop. On three straight possessions, Mount Aloysius' Kara Cordell drew a foul and put in both free throws, and Royals had no answer. Suddenly the Mounties led 77-71 with 52 seconds left.

The teams traded a single free throw, and when the Royals missed inside with 32 ticks to go, the outcome looked gloomy. Two more MAC free throws with 24 seconds left sealed it. McCombs hit a late three ball, but the Mounties earned the five-point win by connecting on 10-of-12 free throws for all of their points over the final 1:37.

Eastern Mennonite out-shot their hosts 43% to 36%, including a solid 8-for-17 effort from long range. The women even had a 52-42 rebounding edge, but a -14 turnover margin was too much to overcome. Mount Aloysius had a 26-8 control in points off turnovers.

Delawder racked up 15 points and nine rebounds before fouling out late in the game. Deffenbaugh canned 4-of-5 triples and scored 14 points. Simmons had a breakout effort with 13 points, missing only one shot. She had scored nine points over her first four collegiate games combined.

McCombs added 10 points and six boards. Baltimore had eight rebounds and three assists.

Mount Aloysius relied on their starters for all but 12 of their points, highlighted by 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists from Cordell. Jessa Wright hit a double double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.