EMU women open ODAC Tourney with win
The Eastern Mennonite women took over midway through the first half of their ODAC Quarterfinal game Thursday and came away with a 63-55 win over seven-seeded Roanoke. The #2 Royals advance to the Semifinals and will play Saturday against #3 Guilford at 3:00pm.
The first 12 minutes of the game were relatively even before EMU’s interior presence took over. The women powered to a 16-3 finish to the half, leading 39-27 at the break.
Eastern Mennonite shot 53% from the floor over the first 20 minutes, compared to 33% for RC. Bianca Ygarza (Conestoga, PA/Penn Manor) hit all nine of her shots in the first and had 18 at halftime. Kala Yoders (Myerstown, PA/ELCO) added another 10 points inside for the Royals.
The women kept on top in the second, pushing the edge to as many as 16 at 55-39 after a Shakeerah Sykes (Dumfries, VA/Forest Park) layup with 9:14 to play. That’s when the Maroons made their comeback.
Roanoke ignited on a 12-2 run, including nine straight points, to slice the lead to 57-51 with 4:31 remaining. As the tension rose, neither team scored for nearly two minutes.
Finally Yoders hit a tough jumper in the lane to end RC’s run and settle the Royals down. The Maroons turned the ball over and Ygarza followed with a bucket, getting an assist from Yoders.
The 4-0 spurt put the lead back in double digits, 61-51, with 1:57 to go. After the teams traded free throws, the final minute passed almost anti-cathartically. But as the seconds ticked off, they sealed the 63-55 win for Eastern Mennonite.
“When things got tight, I thought that we executed well and got the ball where we needed to,” said EMU Coach Kevin Griffin. “And as I told the women, it’s about surviving and moving on. And we did that.”
Ygarza, an All-ODAC First Teamer, finished with a game high 22 points. She also broke the EMU and ODAC Tournament record for field goal percentage, by going 10-for-10 from the floor. The forward added seven rebounds.
Yoders, named All-ODAC Second Team on Wednesday, chipped in 15 points, and was one of four different Royals with three assists. Alisa Brown (Dumfries, VA/Forest Park) also hit double figures with 10 points and had three assists.
Keyla Baltimore (Bristow, VA/Brentsville District) and Stephanie Rheinheimer (Manheim, PA/Lancaster Mennonite) each had three assists as well. Baltimore pulled down a team high nine rebounds. Rheinheimer had eight points and seven rebounds to help celebrate her All-ODAC Third Team honors.
All-ODAC Third Teamer Paxton Gwin (Buxton, NC/Cape Hatteras) led Roanoke with 18 points and nine rebounds. Tatum McKee (Cornelius, NC/North Mecklenburg) finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three blocks.
Eastern Mennonite had a 46% to 35% edge in shooting percentage. The women also hindered the Maroons from outside, as they shot just 2-for-19 from three point range. EMU was 4-for-14.
The Royals are now 22-3 as they await their Semifinal game on Saturday.