The Eastern Mennonite women entered Saturday’s game with Roanoke with the 11th-best offense in the nation. The Maroons held EMU 30 points below their season average, but the Royals still found a way to get the win, getting a late bucket to steal a 45-44 decision.
Sophomore Stephanie Rheinheimer (Manheim, PA/Lancaster Mennonite) hit the clutch jumper with 12 seconds left, giving the women their first lead since early in the second at just the right time.
The game was tight the entire way, with Roanoke holding the biggest lead of either team with a 20-13 advantage in the first. EMU answered with a 10-0 run to jump back in front and led 23-22 at halftime.
In the second, the two went back-and-forth until RC broke a span where neither scored for five minutes. The home team scored two straight buckets to go up 35-31 and stretched the edge to 39-33 with 6:02 to go.
The Royals answered with five straight to get back within one. The two again traded scores, with Roanoke still holding a 44-43 lead after Rheinheimer drilled a three with 1:10 left.
The Maroons missed a three pointer on their next possession, giving EMU the chance at the lead. But with the shot clock winding down, the Royals turned the ball over and the women quickly fouled.
RC’s Taylor Duggins (Pfafftown, NC/Forsyth Country Day) missed the front end of a one-and-one with 28 seconds remaining, and Kala Yoders (Myerstown, PA/ELCO) grabbed the rebound. With a second chance to take the lead, the women responded. Rheinheimer hit the game-winner with 12 seconds left, and Paxton Gwin (Buxton, NC/Cape Hatteras Secondary) missed a shot at the buzzer.
Rheinheimer led all scorers with 14 points, including the final five of the game. She also had five rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Yoders added 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Bianca Ygarza (Conestoga, PA/Penn Manor) was third on the balanced team with five points. She also had five rebounds and two of EMU’s three assists.
Roanoke got most of their scoring from three sources. Laurel Hankins (Dublin, VA/Bland) had 13 points. Gwin had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Tatum McKee (Cornelius, NC/North Mecklenburg) added 10 counters and eight boards.
Eastern Mennonite shot 30% in the defensive battle, while the Maroons were only slightly better at 31%. The Royals were 8-13 from the free throw line while Roanoke was 6-12.
The women did have 12 steals, forcing the home team into one more turnover, 20-19.
EMU moves to 18-2 overall and 14-2 in the ODAC with the win. With conference-leading Guilford losing to both Randolph-Macon and Virginia Wesleyan over the weekend, the Royals take over first in the ODAC. VWC is second at 13-2 with the Quakers third at 12-3.
The women now have a full week off before hosting Virginia Wesleyan next Saturday afternoon at 4:00pm. The important contest will also be a Play 4Kay Game, helping to raise breast cancer awareness.