With 5 seconds left in overtime, Xavier McCants (Olney, Md./Sherwood) took off, hoping to get to the hoop or find an open man. Instead the Royals felt the pressure and called a time out with just 2.1 seconds left. Unfortunately there was just not enough time for the EMU men to convert, as they fell 86-85 to the University of Mary Washington in the 2017 season opener.
The talented Eagles, also playing in their first game of the year, were picked No. 3 in a tie with Salisbury University in the Capital Athletic Conference preseason poll. The Royals opened their slate with UMW for the second year in a row, improving since their previous 88-71 encounter.
UMW jumped out to an early 13-5 lead by the 15:43 mark. The Royals battled and took a 19-16 lead off a McCants three-pointer with 10:09 left in the half. From there, there would be three lead changes until UMW regained control with 6:56 left. Despite being down, the Royals went on a 12-8 run to bring the game to 41-38 at half time. Jerome Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) started, and fueled, the run making a jump shot and two triples.
The Royals didn't waste time going into the second half as Maleke Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) tied the game at 44 at the 17:06 mark. The Royals built their lead after going on a 13-2 run with 13 minutes left in regulation thanks to nine points from Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md./St. Maria Goretti), four from Josh Good (Luray, Va./Luray), and two from Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire). The Eagles responded and shifted momentum cutting the lead to two with 7:18 left before going on a 5-0 to regain the lead at 69-66.
After a couple minutes of drought for both teams, the Royals caught fire when Latimer took the game to three on a lay in. Shortly after, McCants came up with an offensive rebound and found Jerome Jones beyond the arc, who capitalized and sent the game into overtime. The home crowd erupted on the bucket but UMW called a timeout and quickly settled down. With 19 seconds remaining, the Eagles had an opportunity to end the game but were unable to convert a deep three-pointer at the buzzer.
EMU scored first in overtime with a single free throw, but UMW answered with a three-pointer to take the lead and held it until Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md./Northern) tied it with a lay in. The Eagles missed a three-pointer and Maleke Jones put the Royals ahead with two free-throws with 34 seconds left.
UMW's Eric Shaw missed a jumper, but AJ Robinson grabbed an offensive rebound before eventually hitting the go-ahead three pointer with 5 seconds left. Robinson's shot had enough spin on it that it hit the rim three times before falling to give the Eagles the victory.
Five members of the Royals posted double-figures in points, including a team-best 17 from Latimer, 13 each from Maleke Jones, Jerome Jones and Thomas, and 12 from Harris-Winn. McCants and Maleke Jones combined for nine of the team's 18 assists.
Eastern Mennonite shot 45.6% from the field (31-68), making 8-27 three pointers and 15-24 free throws. Mary Washington shot 41.2% from the field (28-68), making 15-41 three-pointers and 15-31 free throws.
In a game where there were 10 lead changes and six ties, the Royals held a 42-20 advantage in points in the paint.
Eastern Mennonite will look for their first win this weekend, playing two games at the Messiah Tip-Off Tournament in Grantham, Pa. The Runnin Royals get a big challenge on Friday against a fundamentally-sound Delaware Valley team Friday evening before taking on either Messiah or Wilson Saturday afternoon.