In a matchup of nationally-regarded basketball teams, York (Pa.) had too much on their home court for the EMU women to handle, taking a 65-52 decision. The Royals couldn't overcome a disastrous stretch in the first half, and would get no closer than seven in the final minutes in suffering their first loss of the year.
EMU had entered the USA Today Sports Coaches Poll this week at No. 24, while York was effectively No. 29 in the D3hoops.com preseason poll. The two lists share the honor of being the official D-III national polls.
Eastern Mennonite skipped to an early 7-2 lead, and still had the five-point edge at the 14:28 mark. But the senior-laden Spartans scored nine unanswered points to trigger a 22-2 run, vaulting them to a 26-11 cushion.
The Royals scored the final six points of the half, however, scraping to within 35-29 at the intermission.
York pushed back to a 14-point lead, and was up 55-41 with 10:11 to play. The home team went cold at that point, allowing EMU to slowly get back in the contest. Over a rugged five-minute stretch, Bianca Ygarza (Conestoga, Pa./Penn Manor) had a personal 7-0 run to get the Royals back within seven.
The Spartans then regrouped, and after trading buckets for a few minutes, they closed the game on a 6-0 spurt to produce the final 65-52 score.
Despite EMU hitting 6-of-14 three pointers, neither team shot very well from the floor. York made the biggest difference by grabbing 18 offensive rebounds and holding a +10 margin in turnovers, 25-15.
Ygarza was aggressive on the offensive end and co-led the team with 13 points, going 7-8 from the free throw line. Sharp shooter Marla zumFelde (Goshen, Ind./Bethany Christian) also had 13, a season high for her.
Jess Rheinheimer (Manheim, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) had eight points and six rebounds, while Alisa Brown (Dumfries, Va./Forest Park) dumped in eight points. Becky Barrett (Damascus, Md./Damascus) had a team best eight rebounds. Senior Steph Rheinheimer (Manheim, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) (ankle) sat out the game which was being played just a few miles from her hometown.
York was led by Brittany Hicks, who had 17 points and nine rebounds. Kristen Haley had a double double at 16 points and 12 boards.
Now 2-1 on the year, Eastern Mennonite jumps into ODAC play this weekend, playing at Hollins Saturday at 2:00pm.