A big lead early was enough for the Runnin Royals, as they held off rival Bridgewater College 72-62 Wednesday night at home. The win forged a three-way tie for seventh in the ODAC standings between Eastern Mennonite, Bridgewater and Washington and Lee with just one game left in the regular season.
Seeds five through eight with host First Round games in next week's ODAC Tournament, putting extra pressure on the three teams in their final games. The Royals hold the head-to-head tie-breaker over both BC and W&L, meaning a win against Roanoke on Saturday would earn them the seventh seed.
EMU senior Andrew Thorne (Front Royal, VA/Skyline) also joined the 1,000 point club in the win, breaking four digits when he connected on a free throw with 17:20 left in the game. He finished with a team high 16 points and has 1,008 for his career.
The Runnin Royals took control early, holding Bridgewater without a field goal for the first 6:35 of the game. After two free throws by BC's Ed Reddick (Virginia Beach, VA/Kellam), the Royals scored the next 13 points by attacking the hoop.
Bridgewater made a little run to get within 13-8, but Owen Longacre (Telford, PA/Christopher Dock) capped a 10-2 run by nailing a three pointer at the 9:19 mark, making the score 23-10. The Eagles made another run to get within three points, but EMU finished the half on a strong note and took a 36-26 lead into the locker rooms.
Midway through the second half, Ronnie Thomas (Roanoke, VA/Patrick Henry) capped a BC run with a jumper, slicing the lead to 49-46 with 9:23 to go. But R.J. Sims (Fort Washington, MD/Friendly) and Thorne bookended a 10-0 run with three pointers to equal the biggest lead of the night at 59-46 with 6:35 left.
The Eagles got no closer than six points, and Thorne highlighted his big night with a fastbreak dunk with 49 seconds left, providing the final 72-62 score.
Eastern Mennonite was hot from the floor, hitting 29-of-55 shots for 52.7%. It was the men's highest shooting percentage since a Dec. 15 win over Maryland Bible. The Royals were also 6-for-14 from three point range for 42.9%.
Bridgewater was a chilly 35.9% from the floor, including 1-of-8 from outside. The Eagles kept in the game by going 15-for-25 from the free throw line, grabbing 13 offensive boards and committing only 13 turnovers. EMU had 20 miscues.
Thorne had 16 points and five rebounds. Longacre finished with 13 points and eight boards. Sims was also in double figures with 12 points.
Dajon Daniel (Fredericksburg, VA/Mountain View) had a nice floor game with nine points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. David Falk (Madison, VA/Madison) added eight rebounds off the bench.
Reddick led both teams with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Aaron Adams (Ellicott City, MD/Centennial) was the only other Eagle with more than six points, as he charted 13. Zach Hunter (Newport News, VA/Woodside) had five steals.
Eastern Mennonite has now won eight of the last nine games in the series between the two rivals. The Royals improve to 14-10 overall while BC slips to 13-11. Both are 7-8 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.