The Royals earned an 11-point lead early in the second Wednesday night at Randolph College, but EMU's basketball men couldn't close the deal, dropping a 63-62 decision in a wild finish. The game saw two separate ties over the final 10 seconds, and the teams combined to shoot six free throws over the final 3.1 seconds, with the WildCats making the game-winning free throw with 1.4 ticks left.
Eastern Mennonite closed a back-and-forth first half with a pair of layups to lead 31-26.
The momentum carried into the second, as Marcel Crump (Richmond, Va./Highland Springs) capped an 8-0 run with a jumper for the night's biggest lead at 39-28. The WildCats eventually got back in front with a 7-0 run to make it 50-49 with 9:02 left.
The teams traded leads again, with Crump finally locking things up at 59-59 with 1:14 to go. Randolph got one of two free throws from Evan Horn to take a 60-59 lead, and the Royals turned it over on their next possession. Horn again made just one free throw with 25.4 seconds left to make it a two-point game.
Crump missed a jumper for the Royals, but David Falk (Madison, Va./Madison) got a huge offensive tip-in to tie it up at 61-61 with 9.9 seconds left. After Randolph called a timeout, Horn again drew a foul with 3.1 seconds left. He connected on the first attempt for the lead, but missed his second. Jason Eddie grabbed an offensive rebound, however, and was fouled with 1.4 to go.
The WildCats were whistled for a technical foul in their celebration, adding drama to the one-point game. EMU's James Williams (Capitol Heights, Md./Archbishop Carroll) missed the first free throw off the technical, but made the second to tie things up again. Next up, Eddie got his two charity tosses for Randolph. He made the first to put the home team back in front, 63-62, and missed the second.
EMU got the rebound and called a timeout with 1.1 left, but Crump's attempt at a full court pass struck a speaker in the ceiling of the small RAD Center turning the ball over and leaving Randolph with the win.
Neither team shot well from the free throw line, but the Royals had an advantage by hitting 8-of-21 three pointers and holding a 36-28 edge in rebounding. Committing 13 turnovers to just seven for Randolph made the difference, however.
Ryan Yates (Alexandria, Va./T.C. Williams) canned four triples and finished with a game high 18 points. Crump added 12 points. Falk had 12 rebounds and nine points.
Mike Ehilegbu led the WildCats with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The tough loss is the second straight for EMU, as the men slip to 6-6 overall and 1-2 in the ODAC. The Royals return to Yoder Arena Saturday night for their next game, hosting high-powered Hampden-Sydney. Game time is at 7:00pm.