Now we know how the new Runnin Royals will look – just as fast and high-pressure as last year. In their first game of 2011-12, the men picked out 17 steals and forced 32 turnovers en route to an 87-61 rout of visiting Shenandoah.
Sophomore Adam Burroughs (Roanoke, VA/Northside) started the game with a steal and lay-up, then EMU used a 6-0 run to push the lead to 8-2. The Hornets got within 10-8 before the Runnin Royals clamped on the defense. Holding SU scoreless for a span of 7:54, Eastern Mennonite inflated the edge to 20-8 and never let it below double digits the rest of the night.
Dajon Daniel (Fredericksburg, VA/Mountain View) canned the game’s first three as the first half closed, pushing the lead to 43-17.
Shenandoah never seriously threatened in the second. Andrew Thorne (Front Royal, VA/Skyline) provided the highlight for the opening night crowd of 745, as he stole the ball and dunked it with 4:13 to play. The two points bumped EMU over the magic threshold of 79, giving everyone in attendance a free cone from Kline’s Dairy Bar.
From there, Coach Kirby Dean flooded the court with his bench players, getting all 15 healthy Royals playing time. Each team scored 44 points in the second as the men rolled to the win.
Dean was pleased with the first 20 minutes of the game.
“I think in the first half we showed how good we can be,” he said afterwards. “In the second half we showed how bad we can be. Now part of that is Shenandoah, because they played better, but our guys need to play with the same intensity from the first half for a full 40 minutes if we want to finish in the top part of the ODAC.”
Thorne led the way on the night, netting 17 points with six rebounds and four steals. R.J. Sims (Fort Washington, MD/Friendly) notched 16 points to go along with his game high five assists.
The Hornet’s Avery Green led all played with 20 points.
Eastern Mennonite squelched Shenandoah to a 21.9% shooting clip in the decisive first half. The Royals shot 44.7% over the frame and finished 35-74 for 47.3%. SU came in at 35.7%, going 20-56. EMU also had a 47-39 edge in rebounds.
Now 1-0, the men head to Arlington this weekend for the Marymount Tip-Off Tournament. The Royals play Springfield Friday at 4:00, and then play either DeSales or host Marymount on Saturday.