Eastern Mennonite Athletics
Eastern Mennonite has had its share of good wins this season, but the men were still looking for a signature win. Monday night they got it when the Runnin Royals beat No. 7 Virginia Wesleyan, 86-71.
Fueled by a stifling defense, EMU held the Marlins scoreless for the first 3:02 and jumped ahead 17-2. VWC, which slipped to No. 7 in the D3hoops.com poll released shortly before the game, started the game 1-12 from the floor and could never get the lead below double digits.
Play grew increasingly intense as the first half wore on, including off-setting technical fouls called with 11 seconds left in the period. But the Royals grabbed all the momentum going into halftime, as sophomore Andrew Thorne hammered down a dunk as the period expired with a fancy assist coming from Eli Crawford.
Eastern Mennonite, which rose two spots to No. 14 in the new national poll, led 47-32 at halftime.
The physical play caught up with the Marlins in the second half. Three Marlin players fouled out. Eastern Mennonite starters remained on the floor to the final buzzer and the Runnin Royals celebrated the 86-71 win.
Coach Kirby Dean said his team’s defense made the difference.
“I thought we played great defense, especially for those first 10 minutes or so,” he said. “When we play defense, we become a really good team as we can get out on the break.”
Eastern Mennonite held the Marlins to less than 40 percent shooting in each half, hampering VWC to 23-67 from the floor for 34 percent. The Runnin Royals, meanwhile, scored in transition and in the half court, connecting on 30-of-59 shots for 51 percent.
EMU did struggle from the free throw line, going 22-41.
Todd Phillips had his second consecutive double double, finishing with game highs of 22 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Orie Pancione and George Johnsonwere each effective from the floor and finished with 18 points apiece.
Crawford came in with 11 points and eight rebounds. D.J. Hinson (Newport News, Va./Menchville) had three blocked shots and Thorne finished with a game high three steals.
DJ Woodmore (Virginia Beach, Va./Landstown) led the Marlins with 18 points. Donald Vaughn (Woodbridge, Va./Dumfries Potomac) scored 10 before fouling out.
The Runnin Royals have now won six straight as they enter the final week of the regular season. EMU is 19-4 overall and 10-4 in the ODAC, moving into a tie for third place with Guilford. VWC slips to 20-3 and 11-3 in the ODAC. The Marlins have lost two in a row and fell into second place behind Randolph-Macon.