EMU men get win over Messiah

The momentum is starting to build in Harrisonburg, as the Runnin Royals have their first winning streak of the young season. Eastern Mennonite used a big first-half run to get the lead on Messiah and then held on for a 68-57 victory on Saturday.

After the EMU men scored the first point of the game, the visiting Falcons jumped up 5-1. EMU then exploded on a 25-2 run over the span of 7:19 to open up a huge 26-7 lead. Junior Andrew Thorne (Front Royal/Skyline) nailed a pair of triples and had 10 points during the streak.

But just as quickly the Royals’ offense shut off and Messiah patiently cut the lead down to 28-20. Eastern Mennonite led 34-25 at halftime.

The Falcons came out of the break with a well-executed play for a dunk, but Dajon Daniel (Fredericksburg/Mountain View) helped stave off any surge. Daniel hit a three pointer and then grabbed a defensive rebound and tossed a beautiful alley-oop dunk to Thorne to put the lead back into double digits.

The rest of the half turned into a sparring match. David Fernandez got Messiah within eight points with 10:42 left and then within nine with 3:41 to go. But the Runnin Royals were 6-10 from three point range in the half and 6-8 from the free throw line to keep the edge up en route to the win.

Daniel and Thorne each hit a pair of treys and co-led the team with 14 points apiece. Senior Josh Mallory (Round Hill/Loudoun Valley), in just his fourth game back after a preseason injury, was 3-3 from outside and notched 10 points.

Randell Smith (Woodbridge, VA/Garfield) provided some nice minutes off the bench and had nine points. Big men David Falk (Madison/Madison) and Owen Longacre (Telford, Pa./Christopher Dock) each had seven rebounds, as EMU had a 34-29 edge on the glass.

Fernandez led all players with 17 points. Brad Bolen added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Falcons.

Coach Kirby Dean was happy with his team’s three-point shooting, but wanted more consistent defense.

“We seem to play pretty good defense for the first eight or ten minutes of games and then we’re a pretty good team,” he said. “But when we don’t play good defense we’re pretty average.”

The Royals held Messiah to just 36% shooting in the first 20 minutes, but allowed their visitors to shoot 46% in the second half for a 42% game total. EMU came in at 44%, including 9-21 from outside for 43%.

The win is the second in a row for the men, who are now 4-6 overall. The men travel to Shenandoah on Tuesday before the Christmas break. EMU beat the Hornets 87-61 when the two met in the season opener in Harrisonburg.

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