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EMU Royals dig a hole they can’t get out of at Roanoke

emu sportsEMU made run after run in the second half, but couldn’t overcome Roanoke’s lead, eventually dropping a 75-65 decision on the road Wednesday night. Now 10-14 overall and 4-11 in the ODAC, the Runnin Royals were eliminated from contention to host an ODAC Tournament First Round game.

The men wrap up the regular season on Saturday, playing at third-place Emory & Henry at 2:00pm. Eastern Mennonite will then play a road game in the first round of the conference tourney on Monday, at a site to be determined.

Based on Saturday’s outcomes, EMU could still finish anywhere from ninth to 12th in the ODAC standings.

The Royals scored first in the game on a layup from Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire), but neither team could gain any momentum. They traded leads, with neither leading by more than four, and Roanoke (13-10/8-7 ODAC) scored the final four of the half to lead 28-25 at the break.

The Maroons pushed their lead to 38-27 early in the second, but Eastern Mennonite came right back with a 7-0 jab to get within 40-36.

That pattern continued over the whistle-happy second half, with Roanoke building a 10- or 11-point cushion, and EMU cutting it back down to two possessions.

RaShawn Latimer (Warrenton, Va./Kettle Run) drilled a triple with 3:33 to go, getting the Royals back within 64-60, but the home team patiently put the game away with a 6-1 run. They scored all of the points from the free throw line to lead 70-61 with 1:59remaining and the Runnin Royals came up empty on back-to-back possessions to end their chances.

EMU grabbed nine offensive rebounds and held a 34-29 rebounding edge, but were slightly trumped by Roanoke in most other categories, including 46% to 42% in shooting. The men were 22-33 from the free throw line and missed a few opportunities in one-and-one situations. The Maroons were 25-35 from the stripe.

Freshman Darius Johnson (Altavista, Va./Altavista) showed an adept offensive touch in side, leading EMU with a career high 17 points in just 18 minutes off the bench. It was the first time Johnson scored more than nine points.

Latimer finished with 13 points and six rebounds and Clower chipped in 11. Jerome Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) added eight rebounds and eight counters.

C.J. Miles had 22 points and four assists to lead the Maroons.

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