EMU Basketball: Royals fall short in bid to earn spot in ODAC Tournament

emu basketballEMU’s basketball men led No. 18 Virginia Wesleyan much of the game, but the Marlins made the final run to surge to a 70-61 decision Saturday afternoon in Virginia Beach.

With the near upset coming up short, the Runnin Royals (5-20/3-13 ODAC) also came up short in their bid to get into the ODAC Tournament. A win would have tied the men for 10th in the ODAC standings, although as it turns out, they would have been tied with surging Emory & Henry and lost out on a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Wasps for the final spot in the 10-team tourney.

Trying to win their way into the postseason, the men responded with a strong start to the game. Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) cashed in a three pointer on EMU’s first possession. He later capped an 11-2 run to build a 17-9 margin at the 13:18 mark.

The Marlins fought back to tie the score at 24-24, and earned two more ties, but the Royals stayed on top. Tie Evans (Henrico, Va./Steward School) got an offensive putback to end the first half, giving Eastern Mennonite a 39-35 lead at halftime.

The men led by as many as seven points in the second half before Virginia Wesleyan finally got ahead at 48-47.

Kobi Alexander (Madison, Va./Madison County) scored seven points during an 8-0 run to flip EMU back in front. Jones then put back his own shot with 9:33 to play, bumping the Royals’ lead to four at 57-53. But they went cold from there.

Over their next six possessions, the men had four turnovers and came up empty on their two other chances. In the meantime, the Marlins efficiently scored 10 straight points to jump ahead 63-57 with 4:16 to go.

DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton) hit a free throw at the 3:17 mark to end the scoreless streak, but Virginia Wesleyan kept going, scoring on three unanswered possessions to blow open a 70-58 lead.

The Royals got a late three pointer, but it was too late to combat the 17-1 run.

Eastern Mennonite shot 50% from the floor in the first half, while holding VWU to 38%, but the shooting percentages essentially flipped in the second. For the game, the men held a slight advantage at 43% to 41%, but the Marlins earned their edge by going 21-of-32 from the free throw line. EMU was 9-15.

Jones led the Runnin Royals with 16 points and tied his career high with seven assists. Hill had nine points and ten rebounds. Alexander added nine points while Chris Simmons (Culpeper, Va./Culpeper County) scored eight. Michael Williams (Richmond, Va./Varina) added six points and five rebounds, and senior Jamel Howard (Leesburg, Va./Tuscarora) scored six in his final game.

Percy Burt led Virginia Wesleyan (21-4/13-3 ODAC) with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Daniel Spencer had 18 points and eight boards.


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