EMU men miss chances in OT loss to Bridgewater

emu sportsDespite a rocky game, EMU was nearly rescued by last-second three pointers at the end of regulation and overtime.  Neither went in, however, leaving rival Bridgewater with an 84-82 decision over Eastern Mennonite Wednesday night in Harrisonburg.

EMU’s men hit a few shots, but not enough to overcome the Eagles’ 56-35 rebounding deficit.  The Royals fall to 6-5 overall and 1-2 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference while BC goes to 3-8 and 2-1.

Eastern Mennonite led much of the game, but couldn’t pull away as their two big men, Christian Hansen (Manassas Park, Va./Osbourn Park) and Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md./Northern), were hamstrung with foul trouble.  The pace of the game slowed to a crawl at times as the teams combined for 55 fouls and 74 free throw attempts.

The Royals held the biggest lead by either team at eight points, going up 25-17 after Khalil Davis (Harrisonburg, Va./Spotswood) converted both of his free throws on back-to-back trips with 9:06 in the first.  Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire) hit a late three to push EMU’s lead back to 41-35 at halftime.

Even with the mounting foul trouble, the men kept in front for most of the second.  Jerome Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) nailed a triple to make it 54-47 with 13:19 to go.  Bridgewater slowly made a run, however, eventually tying the score at 56-56 at the 8:55 mark.

The visitors pulled ahead 60-58 on a Kevin Saylor layup with 6:56 left.  It was their first lead since the opening minutes.  BC eventually worked ahead 68-62 with 4:09 to play.

EMU then turned on the defense to trigger a 10-0 run to surge back in front.  Maleke Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) picked a steal and found Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md./St. Maria Goretti) for a three pointer to flip the men in front 72-68 with 1:53 remaining.

The Eagles were bailed out on their next possession, when Jerome Jones was called for a loose ball foul after he blocked a BC shot.  Efe Balfour made a single free throw to end EMU’s run.  Harris-Winn then missed a pair of free throws and Logan Seacrist got an offensive putback with 54 ticks left to pull Bridgewater within one at 72-71.

RaShawn Latimer (Warrenton, Va./Kettle Run) missed inside for the Royals and Saylor streaked in for a layup, bumping Bridgewater back in front 73-72 with 25 seconds left.  Tariq Caldwell (Richmond, Va./Lee-Davis) was fouled with seven seconds showing, and made his first toss to tie the score at 73-73.  He missed the second, but EMU got possession after a loose ball scramble went out of bounds.

The men inbounded underneath their own hoop with the chance to win, but Jerome Jones’ three ball skimmed out and the game went to overtime.

EMU scored first in OT before the Eagles put in eight straight to jump ahead 81-75.  The Royals didn’t quit, however, and started chipping at the lead.  Latimer hit buckets on each side of a BC free throw to make it 82-79 with 1:25 to go.

Balfour went one-for-two at the stripe and Jerome Jones canned another triple to get within 83-82 with 12 seconds showing.  BC’s Jesse Case was fouled, but made just one free throw.  Jerome Jones again had the chance to win it, but his three pointer from the left side nicked the rim and bounced high, allowing time to expire on EMU’s hopes.

The Royals made up for a 42% to 38% shooting deficit by canning 14-of-38 three pointers.  BC was just 4-17 from long range, with all of their makes coming in the first half.  The men also forced 19 Eagle turnovers for a +9 margin.  But Bridgewater grabbed 15 offensive boards and made a living at the free throw line, going 30-44.  The Royals were 16-30 from the stripe.

Maleke Jones had a solid all-around game with 15 points, four assists and four steals.  Jerome Jones and Latimer each scored 14.  Harris-Winn finished with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists.  Clower added a career best nine points.

Case led Bridgewater with 17 points and four assists.  He was 10-13 from the free throw line.  Balfour finished with 16 points and nine boards, going 10-16 from the stripe.  Seacrist had five offensive rebounds en route to a game high 11 boards.

The Royals will get a big challenge on Saturday against a fundamentally-sound Guilford team.  The men play at 2:00pm in Greensboro, N.C., to be followed by the two women’s teams as part of an ODAC doubleheader.

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