For the second time in the past four games, EMU's basketball women laid down a stifling defensive performance, only to lose by simply giving up too many offensive rebounds.
They held visiting Virginia Wesleyan (8-10/5-4 ODAC) to just 28% shooting, but the Marlins crashed the glass for 21 offensive rebounds to sneak out with a 53-51 decision.
It was a similar story on Jan. 13, when EMU held Lynchburg to 25% shooting, but LC's 25 offensive rebounds sent the women to a 54-41 loss.
Tuesday's defeat was encapsulated well by back-to-back possessions in the final minutes. With EMU (10-7/5-4 ODAC) clinging to a 47-46 lead and 1:30 remaining, the Marlins' Amanda Gerni missed a three point attempt. Virginia Wesleyan got two offensive rebounds in the sequence before Raya Berkley cashed in a layup to flip the visitors in front.
The Royals tried to go inside, but Chrissy Delawder (Broadway, Va./Broadway) had her shot blocked and VWU took the ball up the floor. Berkley hit a tough shot with 30 seconds to go, adding a foul and free throw. She missed the charity toss, but Naeemah Morris split two Royals to grab an offensive board. With her momentum carrying her out of bounds, Morris make a quick turn and foul Berkley cutting in from the free throw line for a lay-in. The bang-bang play made a four-point possession, capping a 6-0 run to suddenly put EMU in a 52-47 hole.
The Royals missed on a three, but nearly made a miraculous comeback as Virginia Wesleyan went ice cold from the free throw line. Gerni missed two tosses with 21 seconds to go, and Jess Washington (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge) scored two from the line. Another quick foul put Reagan Holmes on the line, and she missed both attempts.
Myneshia Walker (Freeman, Va./Brunswick) sliced to the hoop and scored with six seconds to go, cutting VWU's lead to 52-51. Jayla Harris made one-of-two free throws a second later, but Walker missed a three in traffic at the buzzer, leaving the Marlins with the win.
Shooting 0-10 from three in the first half, the Royals never led before intermission, but used defense to stay within 25-20.
They got to the line 11 times in the third period alone, triggering a 17-point frame, the biggest for either team in the game. Walker capped a 9-1 run with her only triple of the night, putting EMU up 33-29 with 2:44 remaining in the third. But VWU squashed all of the women's momentum when Gerni nailed a three pointer from a few feet behind the arc.
The teams traded leads from there until Walker gave the Royals their last lead at 47-46 with 3:31 to play.
Virginia Wesleyan controlled the boards, 47-38, and earned 17 second chance points with their 21 offensive caroms. Every Marlin who played more than five minutes had at least one offensive rebound. The visitors shot just 18-65 for 27.7%, including 7-24 from outside. Even free throws were a struggle for the Marlins at 10-21.
EMU made 16-of-50 attempts for 32%, but connected on only three triples out of 19 attempts. The Royals were 16-21 from the free throw line.
Walker finished with a game high 17 points, including six rebounds. Washington just missed a double double with 16 points and nine rebounds. Delawder had nine points and nine boards.
Taylor Baltimore (Bristow, Va./Battlefield) topped all players with four assists.
Harris' 12 points led the Marlins, although the women limited her to a single point after halftime. She is second in the ODAC averaging 17.8 points per game. Gerni scored 10 off the bench. Holmes was good for nine points and eight rebounds.
EMU stays at home this Saturday, hosting Emory & Henry at 4:30pm. The game follows men's volleyball and men's basketball contests, with action in Yoder Arena starting at 11:00am.