The Runnin Royals out-scored La Roche 12-6 over the final 3:14 of Saturday's game, pulling away for their first win of the season, 84-76.
EMU's basketball men claimed the consolation win at the Marietta Shrine Tournament, taking down a La Roche team that finished 24-3 in 2018-19.
The men get a break of more than a week before their next game, welcoming Bridgewater College to Yoder Arena on Monday, Nov. 25. The Rowdy Royals Game will be a non-conference contest for the two rivals, who are scheduled to meet only once in ODAC play this year.
In Saturday's game against La Roche, neither team led by more than five points until the final minutes. The Redhawks had their largest lead at 57-53 with eight minutes to go, but the Royals scored five straight to flip back in front.
Freshman Alijah Ellis (Stafford, Va./Indian River) converted a four-point play to bump EMU's lead to 70-64 with 5:19 left before La Roche trimmed it back down to a single possession margin.
Leading 72-70, Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) and Mizz Nyagwegwe (Norristown, Pa./Dock Mennonite Academy) converted back-to-back buckets to give the Runnin Royals a little more breathing room. DJ Hill (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton) hit a layup and later a free throw to make it 79-72 with less than a minute to play.
The Redhawks got within four points before turning to fouling, and EMU's men had the answer. Jones sunk a pair of free throws, and after a La Roche miss, freshman Deion Harwood (Goochland, Va./Goochland) added two more. The teams traded a single toss in the closing seconds to maintain the eight-point margin at the final horn, 84-76.
That margin the largest lead for either team in a game that featured 18 lead changes and 13 ties.
The Runnin Royals played their best game of the young season, shooting 47.6% from the floor, including 10-24 from outside. The men were also 14-of-16 from the free throw line while committing just 11 turnovers.
Jones connected on 8-of-17 shots and all seven of his free throws to break his career high with 24 points. He added five assists. Jones had 23 points and five assists in EMU's season-opening overtime loss to Averett. He was named to the All-Marietta Shrine Tournament Team after averaging 17.5 points in the two games.
Nyagwegwe nailed four triples to score 15 points. It was the sophomore's first time scoring in double figures. Harwood had his best collegiate game with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Hill chipped in 11 points and seven boards, while Ellis was effective off the bench with seven points and seven rebounds.
Tyler Frederick led La Roche with 24 points and 14 rebounds.