Harrisonburg, Va. - Hoping to end a seven-game losing streak to rival Randolph-Macon, the Runnin Royals came out flat Saturday night. They never overcame an initial 7-0 deficit and took an 86-72 loss at home.
Despite trailing by as many as 11 in the first half and 15 in the second, Eastern Mennonite made a few runs at the Yellow Jackets. After trailing 16-5, the men sliced the lead to 16-13 with senior Andrew Thorne (Front Royal, VA/Skyline) scoring eight during those early stages. The men trailed 41-36 at halftime.
Even though R-MC stretched the lead out a few minutes into the second, EMU made enough noise on offense to keep things interesting. With an assist from R.J. Sims (Fort Washington, MD/Friendly), Thorne threw down a dunk on the fastbreak with 6:36 to go. The men trimmed the deficit to 75-63 with the play, but it also ignited the home crowd and triggered a Yellow Jacket timeout.
After forcing an R-MC turnover, EMU got a three-point play from Ryan Yates (Alexandria, VA/T.C. Williams) to cut the lead to single digits. But the Yellow Jackets responded by uncharacteristically hitting their free throws to keep control. The visitors, who entered with a 54% mark from the stripe, went 9-for-10 from the line down the stretch to hold out for the win.
The Runnin Royals executed well in the halfcourt and shot 26-for-57 from the floor for 46%. But they also couldn't stop Randolph-Macon, who shot 54% including 5-of-10 from outside. With a total of 52 fouls called in the game, free throws made the biggest difference, with R-MC going 21-30 compared to just 19-37 for the Royals.
The Yellow Jackets also had a 44-29 edge in rebounding to make up for committing 20 turnovers.
Thorne was the highlight of the night, as he topped all players with a career high 30 points. He connected on 11-of-14 shots and was 8-for-10 from the free throw line. The senior also added a team high six rebounds and two steals.
Sims was the only other Royal in double figures as he finished with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. James Williams (Capitol Heights, MD/Archbishop Carroll) had seven points, including EMU's only three pointer, three assists and two steals. David Falk (Madison, VA/Madison) had eight points and four boards.
The loss drops EMU to 6-2, including 1-2 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. After having the week off for exams, the Runnin Royals will play next weekend at the Don Glick Classic hosted by Bridgewater College. The men play Wesley College Friday at 6:00pm and Maryland Bible Saturday at 2:00pm.