EMU's basketball women nearly erased a 17-point deficit before eventually falling 54-41 to Lynchburg College Saturday afternoon in Harrisonburg. The Royals held LC to just 25% shooting but couldn't keep them off the offensive glass as the two ODAC favorites split their season series.
Eastern Mennonite won a Dec. 6 meeting in Lynchburg, 64-59. Now 4-2 in the ODAC, the women sit in a five-way tie one game behind the Hornets in the league standings.
Rival Bridgewater (7-7/3-3 ODAC) comes to visit on Tuesday, giving EMU little time to recover from the tough loss.
The opening minutes of Saturday's game set the tone. The Royals scored first, getting a drive to the hoop from senior Myneshia Walker (Freeman, Va./Brunswick). On their next possession, Lynchburg earned a pair of free throws but missed both attempts. An offensive rebound, however, turned into a quick layup for two points. LC then scored on their next three possessions, including twice after offensive rebounds, to push ahead 10-5.
After a pair of Jess Washington (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge) free throws to get within 10-7, the Royals went cold. They wouldn't score for nearly six minutes, eventually getting a single free throw in the closing minute of the period, and trailed 20-8 at the break.
Lynchburg scored the first five points of the second, pushing the margin to 25-8, before Washington finally score at the 7:23 mark of the second. It was EMU's first field goal since 6:55 was showing on the clock in the first – a span of nearly ten minutes.
After a pair of LC free throws, the women turned on their defense, holding their guests to just one point over the final 6:23 of the half. The offense put together a 9-0 run and got the Royals within single digits at halftime, 28-19.
Eastern Mennonite scored the first four after the intermission, capping a 13-1 streak, as the home crowd of 475 sensed the expected billing between the ODAC heavyweights was finally taking shape. Lexi Deffenbaugh (Fishersville, Va./Wilson Memorial) drained a three pointer to get it down to a one-possession game at 33-30. Lynchburg scored on their next two possessions, rebuilding the cushion that they held at 39-35 heading into the fourth.
The Hornets opened the fourth with the ball but Walker blocked the opening layup attempt. The visitors grabbed three straight offensive rebounds, however, eventually getting a pair of free throw from Caroline Naumann.
Much like the beginning of the game, that opening possession was a looming harbinger. Lynchburg grabbed nine offensive boards in the fourth quarter and, combined with a struggling EMU offense, triggered an 11-0 start to the frame. Olivia DeFrancesco canned a three to cap the streak for a 50-35 lead.
Walker's two free throws at the 3:04 mark were the Royals' first points of the fourth and it was too late for a comeback.
Eastern Mennonite actually out-shot LC 30% to 25%. The Hornets made up for it at the stripe, going 17-25 compared to 10-16 for EMU. Helped by 25 offensive rebounds, Lynchburg had a 54-34 command of the glass. They scored 14 second chance points, making the difference in the 13-point decision.
Washington finished with 12 rebounds and 10 points for her third straight double double. Walker added 10 points, two steals and two blocked shots. Lindsey Krisak (Alexandria, Va./Thomas A. Edison) made two of the team's three triples and scored eight.
DeFranceso led Lynchburg with 17 points and three assists. Molly Shephard had 13 rebounds, 10 points and three steals. Alex Allen and Brittany Afolabi-Brown each had six offensive boards and combined for 20 rebounds. The Royals did a good job on Naumann, LC's leading scorer, keeping her at nine points on 3-for-16 shooting.