EMU's basketball men scored on their first possession Tuesday night and never looked back, rolling to a 92-73 win over visiting Wilson College. The Runnin Royals shot 59% in the first half and then controlled it from the free throw line in the second to improve to 3-2.
After a break over Thanksgiving, Eastern Mennonite (3-2) has their ODAC opener at the University of Lynchburg on Sunday, with game time set for 2:00pm.
The Royals won the opening tip against Wilson (1-4), and got a bucket just 15 seconds in on a Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire) assist to DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton). After a Wilson miss, Clower gave a handout to Xavier McCants (Olney, Md./Sherwood) for a 4-0 lead.
The men earned their first double-digit margin at 24-14 on a McCants layup, and led by as many as 19 points in the first half. A couple of late threes got the Phoenix within 46-33 at intermission.
The momentum carried into the second half, where Wilson scored the first nine points to combine for a 15-0 run to trim EMU's once-mighty lead to 46-42.
Tariq Caldwell (Richmond, Va./Lee-Davis) hit a pair of free throws at the 14:57 mark to end a six-minute dry spell and stem Wilson's rise from the ashes.
The Phoenix hung around for the next seven minutes, trailing just 62-57 with 7:48 to play. Then a Michael Williams (Richmond, Va./Varina) three ball opened things up. Clower added a bomb and Hill laid one in for a quick 8-0 streak, bumping the lead to 70-57.
The Royals converted just four more field goals over the final six minutes of play, but the key was the free throw line. EMU added 13 made free throws during the same stretch, to pull away from Wilson. All told, the men ended the game on a 30-16 run, with the final 19-point margin being the biggest of the game.
Clower had a huge night, as the senior destroyed his previous career high with 31 points. His highest scoring total entering the game was 18. The senior shot 5-of-11 from downtown, but also went 12-for-15 from the free throw line, with all but one of those in the second half. Clower also handed out four assists.
Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) was equally as impressive, as the six-foot sophomore guard notched a double double with 18 points and a game high 12 rebounds. Both were career highs, as were his four steals. Jones also had five assists. Williams rounded out a dominant backcourt, adding 16 points and four assists off the bench.
Caldwell finished with six points, nine rebounds and three assists, while Mark Loving (Woodford, Va./Caroline) chipped in six points with two big blocks.
Rashaan Bean needed 17 shots to lead Wilson with 21 points. RaeShaun Henderson had 12 points and five assists.
EMU out-shot the Phoenix, 49% to 42%, and were 24-34 from the stripe compared to 10-20 for Wilson.