Harrisonburg, VA - Only in a league like the Old Dominion Athletic Conference can a team score 94 points and still lose. Eastern Mennonite poured in 59 second-half points but still came up short against a hot-shooting Hampden-Sydney team, 104-94, Saturday night in Harrisonburg.
The Runnin Royals hung with the high-powered Tigers throughout most of the first half, trailing just 33-28 with 6:59 to go until halftime. That's when Hampden-Sydney caught fire and unleashed a 23-7 run to close the half, taking a 56-35 advantage into the break.
The difference hovered around 20 points until EMU made a late comeback. Trailing 85-64, Owen Longacre (Telford, PA/Christopher Dock) hit a lay-up with six minutes left to play to start the roll. In just 45 seconds, a quick 7-1 run trimmed the lead to 86-71 after R.J. Sims (Fort Washington, MD/Friendly) hit a three pointer. The junior would hit a few more.
The Royals had gotten within 12 points when Sims canned three straight triples squashed around H-SC lay-ups. The 9-4 run sliced the Tigers' lead to 96-89 with 2:09 to go, and ignited the home crowd. After a charge on Hampden-Sydney's next possession, EMU had a chance to do even more damage, but Andrew Thorne (Front Royal, VA/Skyline) missed a three with 1:38 left.
From there, the men were forced to foul, and Hampden-Sydney calmly went 8-for-8 from the free throw line over the final 1:35 to hold on for the 104-94 decision.
The Tigers, one of the best-shooting teams in the nation, scorched the nets for a 71% clip from the floor. EMU was solid at 49%, including 11-33 from three point range. H-SC finished 36-46 from the free throw line, while the Royals were 19-30.
The men did force the Tigers into 22 turnovers to have a +4 turnover margin, and also grabbed 12 offensive rebounds.
Sims caught fire in the second half, when he scored 23 of his season high 28 points. He drained 6-of-11 three pointers and also had three steals. Longacre added 14 points, while Thorne finished with 13 tallies and five boards.
David Falk (Madison, VA/Madison) had 11 points and a game high three blocked shots. James Williams (Capitol Heights, MD/Archbishop Carroll) was good for eight points and six assists.
Harrison George (Raleigh, NC/Leesville) scored 25 points in the first half for Hampden-Sydney and finished with 33 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Khobi Williamson (Norfolk, VA/Maury) was close behind with 29 points and seven boards.
The loss is the third in a row for EMU, as the men close a stretch against the top three teams in the ODAC. Now 10-7 overall and 3-5 in the league, the Royals need to regroup for a road date at rival Bridgewater College on Wednesday. Game time is 7:00pm.