The first six minutes of the game could not have gone much worse as Virginia Wesleyan scored the first nine points. In the end, that game-opening spell was too much to overcome, as EMU's basketball women suffered a 67-59 road loss to the Marlins.
The defeat effectively knocks out the Royals from the race for a top-four seed in the upcoming ODAC Tournament. They sit two games behind fourth-place Guilford and only two games remain in the regular season while the Quakers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with EMU.
Eastern Mennonite (12-10/7-7 ODAC) makes a big road trip to rival Bridgewater College on Wednesday, with game time set for 7:00pm in Nininger Hall. The Eagles are just one game behind EMU in the ODAC standings.
Against Virginia Wesleyan (11-12/8-6 ODAC), the Royals missed their first six shots and committed three turnovers over the opening 5:55. By the time Brianna Zook (Harrisonburg, Va./Broadway) came off the bench to score EMU's first points at the 4:05 mark, VWU had scored nine times and Jess Washington (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge) had earned a quick seat with two early fouls.
The women trailed by as many as 11 points in the frame and were down 18-10 at the first break.
Back-to-back triples early in the second gave Virginia Wesleyan their largest lead at 26-12. The women slowly scratched back in and scored the final five points before halftime to trail only, 30-24.
The Marlins bumped the lead back up to double figures with a strong start after the intermission before Myneshia Walker (Freeman, Va./Brunswick) started a 13-5 streak to get the women within 44-41.
EMU then scored the first four points of the fourth to get within one point at 48-47, but Virginia Wesleyan answered with an and-one and a layup, quickly putting the margin back up to 53-47. Neither team scored for more than two minutes before another layup from the Marlins bumped the lead to eight points.
The Royals could never recover from that stretch as VWU pulled away for the final win.
Virginia Wesleyan had slight advantages in shooting and free throws, while the Royals grabbed 17 offensive rebounds for an overall margin of 43-37. The Marlins were cold from three-point range, making only 6-for-27, but that made the difference, as EMU was frigid at 1-for-12.
Walker led the women with 19 points and five rebounds. Zook took advantage of her extra minutes inside to finish with 15 points and nine rebounds. Five of her boards were offensive. Precious Waddy (Richmond, Va./Henrico) chipped in seven points and five rebounds off the bench. Washington was limited to six point and six rebounds before fouling out late.
NiAsia Caldwell dumped in 20 points to lead Virginia Wesleyan. Naeemah Morris had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Reagan Holmes added 11 points and four assists off the bench.