The Runnin Royals closed the first half on a small run and rode the momentum to a 68-57 win over Delaware Valley University on Friday night at the Messiah College Tip-Off Tournament in Grantham, Pa.
The rebound win was over a talented Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Freedom team who was also looking for their first win of the 2017-18 season. Last year, the Aggies earned the first seed in their conference tournament after finishing with a 16-9 overall record.
The Royals move to 1-1, while the Aggies drop to 0-2.
Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md. / St. Maria Goretti) hit his second 3 pointer at the 9:53 mark to put EMU up by eight at 14-6.
The Aggies went on an 11-2 run until Harris-Winn made a jump shot with 3:57 left in the first half. Despite trailing DVU, EMU finished the half with eight of the final 11 points to trail by one, 29-28.
The Runnin Royals rolled into the second half and quickly regained a lead after going on a 13-2 run. The run started with a steal from Maleke Jones (Charles Town, W.V. / Washington) at 16:07, which lead to RaShawn Latimer (Warrenton, Va. / Kettle Run) hitting Travis Clower (Romney, W.V. / Hampshire) for a 3 pointer. Latimer contributed four in the run, getting help from Jones, Clower, and Xavier McCants (Olney, Md. / Sherwood) to take the game to 44-36.
DVU responded and brought the game within reach with just less than ten minutes to play, but it was then that EMU took a timeout. For the remainder of the game EMU held the lead and locked up the win.
EMU had four players in double-digit scoring and held a slight 40.4% (21-52) to 38.2 (21-55) shooting margin from the field, but they made the difference from outside and the stripe. EMU was a modest 7-23 from deep (30.4%), but pinned Delaware Valley to 2-for-20 shooting from long range.
The Runnin Royals were also 19-27 from the free throw line compared to 13-23 for DVU.
Maleke Jones led the effort with 16 points and four rebounds while adding an assist and one steal. Clower finished with 12 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Harris-Winn finished with a game-high nine rebounds.
The win advances EMU to the championship game slated for 3:00 tomorrow. The men will take on host Messiah, which beat Wilson College, 88-59.