Despite a couple of big runs, an early deficit was too much to overcome as the Runnin Royals took an 89-75 loss at Frostburg State Thursday afternoon.
EMU's basketball men even out at 6-6 with the loss in their final non-conference game. After a 12-day break over Christmas and New Year's, the men, 1-2 in ODAC play, host Shenandoah on Wednesday, Jan. 2. The game is part of an ODAC doubleheader with the Eastern Mennonite women, who host Roanoke College.
In Thursday's game in Frostburg, Md., the Runnin Royals came out cold, missing their first seven shots and falling in a 10-1 hole. Tariq Caldwell (Richmond, Va./Lee-Davis) got the men's first bucket 5:48 into play, but the damage had been done.
Frostburg State (4-4) rode the momentum to a 23-11 lead before EMU started chipping back. Back-to-back triples followed by a fastbreak lay-up got the men within 35-30, leading to a 42-36 halftime margin that was much better than 12-point deficit from earlier.
A couple of threes in the opening minutes of the second half got the men with 44-42, the closest they had been since the opening minute of the game, but the Bobcats held them off. Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md./Northern) converted a three-point play with 10:54 to go, trimming the margin to 56-55.
But still the home team held on.
A quick 6-0 spurt pushed FSU's lead back to 64-57. The Royals got back within three points a handful of times, the final on a DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton) bucket to make it 68-65 with 6:14 to play.
From there, however, Frostburg State seemed to put in two scores for every one of EMU's. The pattern continued for almost five crucial minutes, bumping the margin to 85-71 with 1:28 remaining. That 14-point difference held to final buzzer, 89-75.
The Royals were out-shot 50% to 41% and held a -7 turnover margin. They stayed in the game by grabbing 13 offensive rebounds for a 43-to-39 overall advantage, and shooting a season-best 76% from the free throw line, making 19-of-25 attempts.
Thomas pounded his way to his second double double of the season, scoring 16 points and tying his career high with 13 rebounds. Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire) added 15 points and three assists, while fellow guard Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) was good for 14 points and seven boards. Hill was also in double figures, scoring 13 off the bench.
Jamel Howard (Leesburg, Md./Tuscarora) had nine points and three assists while Caldwell added eight rebounds.
Frostburg State featured a three-headed monster, highlighted by Edwin Cole's 20 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocked shots. Daniel Alexander scored 21 and Terry Kenner dumped in 20. The Bobcats tied their program record with 14 blocked shots in the game.