EMU men knock off Guilford in OT, 62-61
The Royals all but locked up a home game in the First Round of the ODAC Tournament as they won a defensive overtime battle in Harrisonburg, knocking off Guilford 62-61. Junior Andrew Thorne (Front Royal, VA/Skyline) put in the game-winning layup with 7.3 seconds left in OT and the Quakers’ Josh Pittman (Archdale, NC/Trinity) missed a contested three pointer to seal the decision.
The young Runnin Royals improve to 3-1 in overtime games this season, with the last being the most important. Eastern Mennonite is now tied with Emory & Henry for seventh in the ODAC standings. Washington and Lee is a half game behind the two and plays Sunday at first-place Virginia Wesleyan.
The sixth through eighth place teams host a First Round game on Tuesday. Official tournament pairings will be released following the conclusion of the VWC/W&L game on Sunday.
EMU Coach Kirby Dean said his team is playing their best basketball of the year heading into the postseason.
“We’ve really been playing our best over the last ten games,” he explained, “but we would just find new and creative ways to lose despite how well we were playing. But the last two games we’ve just decided to not find ways to lose. I give credit to the guys because they’ve really hung in there.”
Guilford led by eight early in the first, 16-8. But the Runnin Royals scored 13 in a row to take the lead and headed into the break up 30-26.
EMU held a small lead much of the second half, but saw the Quakers squirt into the lead late with a 7-1 run. Pittman hit a jumper after a GC offensive rebound, putting the visitors up 57-56 with 45 seconds left in regulation.
The Royals nearly gave away the win before nearly stealing it late in regulation. Looking for an inside shot, the men had the ball knocked loose, but Owen Longacre (Telford, PA/Christopher Dock) was fouled as he reached for it. Longacre made the first free throw of the double bonus to tie it, but missed the second. EMU grabbed an offensive rebound, but couldn’t manage a final shot as the ball was knocked loose once again.
Longacre got the first points of overtime with a layup with 3:27 left. Guilford answered with an offensive putback to tie the score at 59-59.
Then the whistles took over, although neither team could seal anything from the free throw line. The Quakers got one of two tosses to go up by one. After a two-minute scoring drought, Dajon Daniel (Fredericksburg, VA/Mountain View) tied it at 60-60 with one free throw with 34.9 seconds left.
Brad Monroe (Asheboro, NC/Eastern Randolph) made one of two to put Guilford back up by one with 25.0 ticks to go. That’s when Adam Burroughs (Roanoke, VA/Northside) found Thorne from the right wing for the game-winner.
Aside from EMU hitting 7-of-15 three pointers in the first half, the game was full of contested shots and tough defense. The Royals didn’t hit another triple after halftime and finished 7-20.
The men shot 38% from the floor compared to 35% for Guilford. Even free throw shooting was rough, as GC shot 55% and the Royals were 53%.
The Quakers did have a 48-40 rebounding advantage, including 22-17 in offensive boards.
Longacre scored a career high for the second straight game, dropping in a game high 20 points with six rebounds. He scored 16 in Wednesday’s win at Washington and Lee.
R.J. Sims (Fort Washington, MD/Friendly) put in 12 counters with seven boards, including five offensive. No one else scored more than five. Thorne led the team with eight rebounds.
Pittman, Guilford’s All-ODAC guard, was hampered by the Royals all night and finished with 13 points on 5-for-19 shooting. Freshman Will Freeman (Fort Wayne, IN/Richmond Senior) had 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Monroe had a game high 10 rebounds.
Gabriel Lowder (Yadkinville, NC/North Forsyth), who entered with a team best 13.8 points per game, was limited to three counters on 1-for-9 shooting.
Dean was proud of his defense, especially against Pittman and Lowder.
“They didn’t get many open looks,” he said. “That’s the key.”
Now 11-14 overall and riding a two-game winning streak, Eastern Mennonite awaits the release of the official pairings tomorrow. Guilford slips to 17-8 and 11-5. The men will play a First Round game Tuesday night at 7:00pm. As an ODAC Tournament game, admission for all adults is $5.00 and students are free.