EMU's basketball women held host Ferrum to just five points in the third period, erasing a half-time deficit before holding on for a 51-47 non-conference win Saturday afternoon.
The Royals (7-3) have won five straight games. Their last loss was more than a month ago, an 81-76 defeat at Mount Aloysius on Nov. 25. Eastern Mennonite now turns their full attention to ODAC play, starting Wednesday night when they travel to Washington and Lee (7-3/1-1 ODAC). Game time in Lexington is 7:00pm.
Saturday's game at Ferrum was a battle of two cold-shooting teams, each of whom had not played a game in nearly two weeks because of the Christmas break. However, it was EMU's stifling defense, especially in the third period, and clutch plays down the stretch that made the difference.
After a solid start, including eight straight points for an 8-2 lead midway through the first, the Royals couldn't find the net and ended the opening 10 minutes with a shooting mark at 21%. Ferrum methodically scored the final 10 points of the frame to earn a 12-8 lead.
The deficit grew to as many as 11 points at 26-15 when Maggie Self canned a triple for the Panthers. But with just over two minutes left before the half, Lexi Deffenbaugh (Fishersville, Va./Wilson Memorial) hit back-to-back three pointers in a 35-second span to ignite the Royals. Jourdyn Friend (Richmond, Va./Meadowbrook) added a layup to get the women within 26-23 at the intermission.
Ferrum got two buckets from Zarkia Mattox early in the third, rebuilding a seven-point edge, but EMU answered with triples from Lindsey Krisak (Alexandria, Va./Thomas A. Edison) and Myneshia Walker (Freeman, Va./Brunswick) to evaporate the margin and change the frame. The Royals kept FC without a field goal over the final 7:32 of the third period, finally getting the lead on a layup from Chrissy Delawder (Broadway, Va./Broadway) and a 34-30 cushion after another three ball from Krisak. Ferrum put in a single free throw to make the score 34-31 heading into the crazy final period.
The fourth saw six lead changes and one tie, with neither team leading by more than four points. Three different times Ferrum grabbed the lead, but each time the levelheaded Royals scored on their next possession. The final back-and-forth swap came with three minutes left after Self canned a three pointer to put the Panthers up 46-45. Jess Washington (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge) shirked a rough game shooting by converting a nice entry pass from Delawder to bump EMU back in front, 47-46, with 2:45 showing.
Neither team scored for nearly two minutes until Walker nailed a three pointer with 57 seconds to go, getting another assist from Delawder on a quick kick-out.
Ferrum got a single free throw on their next possession to cut the lead to 50-47, but could not convert a three after an offensive rebound on the missed second free throw. The Royals made a costly turnover after the miss, but dodged another long ball when Mattox forced up a wide shot.
Delawder grabbed the board and Deffenbaugh sank one-of-two free throws with 4.6 seconds left to ice the game with the final four-point margin.
Eastern Mennonite shot a season-worst 32.1% in the win, just the team's second effort under 43%. They countered by making 9-of-22 three pointers for 40.9%, and limited Ferrum to just 20-67 from the floor for 29.9%. The Panthers shot a mere 2-15 in the third period.
Ferrum had a 45-40 rebounding edge, including 15-7 in offensive boards. EMU was -3 in turnovers, but committed just five fouls all day.
Deffenbaugh led the Royals with 12 points and three steals. She nailed all three of her three-point attempts. Delawder stuffed the stat sheet with 10 rebounds, seven points and six assists, setting a career high for assists in the process. Washington added 10 boards and four assists.
Krisak and Walker each canned a pair of threes and two free throws to score eight points.
Mattox led all players with 15 points, but shot just 7-of-19 from the floor. Ferrum's star senior added 11 rebounds and five assists. Erin March added nine points while Self finished with six, shooting 2-for-11 from outside.