Runnin Royals Get ODAC Road Win in OT, 70-69

Sammy Thomas made 3-of-4 free throws in the final minute of OT to help ice the win. (photo by Scott Eyre)
Sammy Thomas made 3-of-4 free throws in the final minute of OT to help ice the win. (photo by Scott Eyre)

The Eastern Mennonite University men's basketball team won a thrilling overtime game over Randolph-Macon College, 70-69, on Wednesday night in Ashland, Va. R-MC was the only team in the ODAC that head coach Kirby Dean had not beaten on the road in his 15 seasons at the helm of EMU's program. 

The Royals handed the Yellow Jackets their second consecutive loss, as R-MC now sits tied for second in the conference. EMU improves to 8-9 overall (3-6 ODAC).

The Runnin Royals were hot from the floor to start the contest, building a 20-8 lead by the 8:54 mark. R-MC put together a 9-2 run to pull within five at 22-17 with 6:10 remaining in the half.

However, the Royals responded with a 12-2 spurt to take a 34-19 advantage with 1:35 left. Maleke Jones (Charles Town, W.V. / Washington) contributed five points, an assist, and a steal in the run and then closed out the half with a layup to extend the lead to 36-24 at the break.

In the second half, the Yellow Jackets went on an early 8-2 run to cut the deficit to six. But once again, the Royals answered with another spurt of their own after sinking three treys in a 9-2 run, with two threes coming back-to-back from RaShawn Latimer (Warrenton, Va. / Kettle Run). 

The Royals were stalled at 47 for nearly six minutes of play as the home team took the lead for the first time in the contest. R-MC pieced together a 17-0 run to make it 51-47 with 8:30 left. 

Maleke Jones and Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md. / St. Maria Goretti) sunk a couple treys to tie the game at 53-53. A couple buckets on the other end gave the Yellow Jackets a 57-53 advantage with 5:15 remaining. 

The Royals tallied five straight after another Harris-Winn three pointer and a pair of free throws from Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md. / Northern), to tie the game at 60-60 with 1:51 to play. Daniel Noe made a layup before Harris-Winn tied it once again at 62-62 to end regulation.

Overtime started scoreless for the first 1:30 until Jerome Jones (Charles Town, W.V. / Washington) came up with a steal and then converted in the same possession after Maleke Jones dished him the rock for three. R-MC took the ball to their end and landed a one-hander to make it 65-64 with 2:20 remaining.

Thomas hit two free throws to push the margin to three until another R-MC layup brought the score to 67-66 with 37.3 seconds left. Three free throws in the final 3.3 seconds, one from Thomas and a pair from Latimer, secured the win for the Royals despite a three-pointer at the buzzer for R-MC.

Led by Latimer's 7-for-11 shooting effort, including 3-5 from long range, the Runnin Royals shot 49% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc. 

Latimer finished with 19 points, while Maleke Jones shot 3-6 from three and had 13 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and two steals. Harris-Winn was also good for 13 points and five rebounds. Thomas contributed 11 points, grabbed nine boards, and dished out three helpers. EMU used 20 assists on their 25 made field goals.

Eastern Mennonite will return home on Saturday, hosting Roanoke College for a 2:00 tip.