Needing to win both of their final games just for a chance at hosting an ODAC Tournament First Round game, EMU's basketball men took care of business with a convincing 96-74 win at Washington and Lee Wednesday night. The Runnin Royals return home for their finale, hosting Guilford this Saturday at 3:00pm in Yoder Arena. (Note the correct start time.)
At 6-9, Eastern Mennonite maintains their tie with Bridgewater College for ninth place in the ODAC standings, just one game behind a three-way tie of Hampden-Sydney, Randolph and Randolph-Macon at 7-8.
The Royals need to finish with a seed of eighth or higher to get a First Round home game next week Tuesday.
H-SC owns the head-to-head tie-breaker with the Royals based on a win in the teams' only meeting this year. But the men split their two meetings with each of Randolph, Randolph-Macon and Bridgewater. After head-to-head, the next tie-breaker in the ODAC's process is a system comparing the tied teams against the entire field of ODAC teams. It is a very fair system, but also one that is hard to figure out until the final season standings are settled.
For now EMU, 11-12 overall, can celebrate their win and try to take the momentum into Saturday's hosting of the fourth-place Quakers.
The Royals scored first, but Washington and Lee (10-14 / 3-12 ODAC) converted on four straight possessions to jump to a 9-2 lead. Maleke Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) nailed a triple to end W&L's streak and got the men going. A steal from freshman Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire) turned into a fastbreak dunk from Christian Hansen (Manassas Park, Va./Osbourn Park) , and after a quick miss from the Generals, Clower buried a three to cap an 8-0 run in the span of 40 seconds, vaulting EMU back in front, 10-9.
Washington and Lee got a pair of free throws to re-take the lead momentarily, but the Royals kept rolling. Jerome Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) knocked in a three to cap another 8-0 spurt, bumping Eastern Mennonite to a 28-17 cushion with 7:26 left in the first.
The offense continued at a torrid pace, putting in 21 more points over the final six minutes and change, taking a 49-30 lead into halftime.
The Generals got within 16 a couple of times early in the second half, but EMU kept their margin. Xavier McCants (Olney, Md./Sherwood) capped an 11-0 run with a fastbreak layup, giving the Runnin Royals their biggest lead of the night at 77-50 with 11:54 left.
The lead still stood at 21 when the benches finally got their playing time with two minutes remaining.
Eastern Mennonite was simply unstoppable on the offensive end, hitting 12-of-24 three pointers. It was the fourth time the men shot 50% from outside as a team this season. The Royals also shot 54.1% from the floor, surpassing their season high. It was a great rebound after shooting a season low of 24.1% in Saturday's loss to Randolph.
Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md./St. Maria Goretti) led an incredibly balanced effort with 15 points and seven rebounds. Jerome Jones scored 13, as each he and Harris-Winn hit a trio of long balls. Maleke Jones scored 12 with a game high seven assists. Khalil Davis (Harrisonburg, Va./Spotswood) also put in 12.
Big man Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md./Northern) helped EMU to a 37-28 rebounding advantage by grabbing a career high 12 rebounds in just 18 minutes. Hansen was good for nine points and six boards.
Clayton Murtha led W&L with 21 points, five rebounds and four assists. Andy Kleinlein put in 15.