Whatever the reasoning, the Eastern Mennonite women’s basketball team seems to play their best ball in the second half. For the third time in their last four games the Royals overcame a double digit deficit in the second to steal a win. Saturday was the biggest of the three, as the women upset second-place Roanoke, 68-61, in Harrisonburg.
The Maroons were on fire in the first half, hitting 6-of-11 three pointers to grab a 37-28 lead at the break.
Sophomore Danielle Rittenhouse keyed EMU’s second half comeback and finished with a game high 21 points.
Roanoke led by 11 a number of times in the second, including after three-point play from Nicci Moats with 14:26 remaining. But that’s when the Royals found their lightning in a bottle.
EMU started forcing turnovers, getting to the free throw line and getting the breaks. Danielle Rittenhouse (Lancaster, Pa./Lampeter-Strasburg) canned a triple with 11:12 to go, completing an 11-0 run which tied the score at 48-48.
The Maroons regrouped and the teams traded leads for the next nine minutes before the Royals’ defense again took over.
Trailing 61-60 with 2:25 left, EMU put the clamps on Roanoke and didn’t allow another point.
Rittenhouse hit her third three pointer of the afternoon to put the women back ahead at 63-61. The Maroons turned the ball over on six straight possessions and the Royals went 5-for-6 from the free throw line over the final two minutes to seal the upset.
Eastern Mennonite forced the Maroons into 26 turnovers in the game, including 15 in the second half. They also limited RC to 29% shooting in the second, including 0-4 from long range.
The Royals had just 18 turnovers and made the edge in the game by going 19-26 from the free throw line. Roanoke was 11-16 from the stripe.
Rittenhouse scored 14 in the second half and led all scorers with 21. She hit 6-of-10 shots, including 3-of-6 from long range. Rittenhouse was also 6-6 in free throws.
Kala Yoders (Myerstown, Pa./ELCO) had 12 points and Sara Lamneck (Swoope, Va./Buffalo Gap) added 11 and four assists. Each of the three women had a pair of steals.
Moats finished with 15 rebounds and 9 points for the Maroons. Jordan Gholson added 17 points and 9 rebounds.
The win pushes Eastern Mennonite to 12-9 overall and 10-6 in the ODAC. The Royals also take over fourth place in the conference with the key win. Roanoke slips to 12-6 and 11-3.
The Royals have a week off before taking on Virginia Wesleyan on the road next Saturday. Game time for the women’s final regular season road game is 4 p.m.