Harrisonburg, VA - After losing by eight points when the two teams met in Virginia Beach on Dec. 1, the EMU women were ready for a different result. They got it on Saturday, with hot shooting leading to an important 70-54 win over Virginia Wesleyan as the Royals improved to 7-1 in the ODAC.
The first half was a tight, back-and-forth battle, with the teams trading leads, although none by more than four points. Eastern Mennonite led 32-30 at halftime.
The Royals took off in the second. With the score tied at 34-34, Bianca Ygarza (Conestoga, PA/Penn Manor) and Kala Yoders (Myerstown, PA/Eastern Lebanon County) led a charge to build a double digit lead. Steph Rheinheimer (Manheim, PA/Lancaster Mennonite) capped an 11-0 run with a three pointer, making the score 45-34 just 3:45 into the half. Another quick 5-0 run pushed the lead to 50-36 with 13:16 to go.
Virginia Wesleyan showed their toughness, however, by holding EMU without a field goal over the next 6:25. The Marlins got to within one point with a three pointer at the 7:09 mark cutting the lead to 52-51.
EMU responded by holding their visitors scoreless for the next 4:36, scoring 10 straight points to blow open a 62-51 lead with 2:52 to go. The Marlins got a three pointer at the 2:33 mark, but wouldn't score again, and the women sealed the game from the free throw line.
Over the final 7:09 of the contest, the Royals closed on an 18-3 tear.
The win avenges the earlier season loss, which is EMU's only ODAC loss so far. The Royals are now 7-1 in the league and tied with Guilford. They improve to 11-5 overall, riding a season-best four-game winning streak and have won seven of their last eight.
The women connected on 24 of their 48 shots, their fourth straight game shooting 50% or better from the floor. They held the Marlins to 34% shooting.
Four Royals each scored 11 points to co-lead the team. Shakeerah Sykes (Dumfries, VA/Forest Park) had a double double off the bench with 11 points and 10 boards. Ygarza had 11 counters and seven rebounds, while Yoders had 11 and six.
Keyla Baltimore (Bristow, VA/Brentsville District) was 9-of-12 from the free throw line and finished with 11 points and five assists. Alisa Brown (Dumfries, VA/Forest Park) had four helpers.
Eastern Mennonite has a few days off to prepare for rival Bridgewater College. The women host the Eagles next Thursday at 7:00pm.