Senior RJ Sims (Fort Washington, Md./Friendly) picked a great time to break out of his offensive funk, as he scored 14 points over the final 7:38 of Wednesday night's game with Bridgewater, and nearly single-handedly carried Eastern Mennonite to a 62-54 win. The Royals trailed by seven points with 12:07 to play, but closed the game on a 26-11 run to improve to 7-7 overall and 2-3 in the ODAC.
EMU has now won nine of the last ten meetings between the two rivals, including the last four. They meet again Feb. 19 in Bridgewater.
The first half was all defense, as the Royals held the biggest lead at five points and the two teams combined to shoot 19-of-50 from the floor for 38%. Eastern Mennonite was up at the break, 26-25.
Bridgewater used a 9-2 run in the second to turn a tie game into a 43-36 lead with 12:07 to go. Then the defenses again dominated, as only one point was scored over the next three minutes. Finally Sims assisted Ryan Yates (Alexandria, Va./T.C. Williams) on a three ball to trim BC's lead to 43-40 with 9:04 remaining.
Ed Reddick made a layup for the Eagles, but the Royals kept coming. Marcel Crump (Richmond, Va./Highland Springs) hit a pair of free throws to keep it a three-point game. Then Sims took over. The wing made a single free throw to cut it to 45-43 with 7:38 left. After a defensive stop, Sims grabbed the rebounded and canned a three pointer to push EMU in front.
He drilled another three pointer with 3:31 remaining to build the lead to 53-49. Moments later, Sims hit back-to-back shots to give the men their biggest lead of the night at 59-51 with just 1:34 on the clock. The defense kept BC at bay from there, clinching the eight-point win.
Eastern Mennonite out-shot the Eagles 47% to 31% in the decisive second half. For the game, the men had a 41% to 35% edge. They were also 5-12 from three point range, compared to 1-8 for BC, which made up for losing the rebounding battle, 36-33. Bridgewater had 15 offensive boards.
Sims finished with a team high 16 points to go with six rebounds. He scored 14 of EMU's 20 points over the final 7:38, going 4-for-4 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the free throw line. He had scored a total of 12 points over EMU's previous three games, all losses.
Crump and James Williams (Capitol Heights, Md./Archbishop Carroll) each added 14 counters, with Crump handing out three assists. Center David Falk (Madison, Va./Madison) was limited by foul trouble in the first half and finished with eight rebounds and six points.
Reddick led all scorers with 22 points. Tavis Stapleton added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Eagles.
After breaking a three-game losing skid, Eastern Mennonite will look to pick up some momentum when they head to Emory & Henry this Saturday. Game time is 2:00pm.