When the teams met two weeks earlier, Randolph slowed the game down and upset the Runnin Royals 64-61. Saturday night in Harrisonburg, Eastern Mennonite Runnin Royals never got its high-flying attack in top gear, but the men went into overdrive on defense, stifling the WildCats in a convincing 85-50 win.
After the visitors scored the first bucket, the Royals quickly scored the next nine to take over the lead. With the score 13-6, EMU pinned down Randolph and rolled into halftime with a 39-16 lead.
The WildCats connected on only three field goals in the first 20 minutes, shooting just 13.6% from the floor. They didn’t get into double figures until 6:56 remained in the half.
For Eastern Mennonite, team defense defined the period as they forced 13 turnovers. The men played most of the half without Todd Phillips (Waynesboro, Va./Waynesboro) who picked up three quick fouls. Five different players had scored six points by halftime.
The second half didn’t have the tension of the first, as the game was never in doubt. EMU led by as many as 45 en route to the 85-50 win.
“That’s what we want to do,” said Coach Kirby Dean. “We want to play with that kind of defensive intensity.”
The Runnin Royals held Randolph to just 27.8% shooting in the game including 4-12 from three point range. The WildCats even struggled from the free throw line, connecting on 16-of-27 for 59%.
EMU was 33-66 from the floor including a blazing 12-of-26 in triples. The men were 7-10 from the stripe.
“I’ve been telling the guys from day one that if we come out with that defensive mentality, then we’re really tough to beat,” Dean said afterwards. “If we come out flat, we’re an OK defensive team, but we’re not going to string together many wins. If we play like this we can make a run.”
Phillips was good for 13 points in the second half and finished with a game high 19 along with six rebounds. D.J. Hinson (Newport News, Va./Menchville) and R.J. Sims (Fort Washington, Md./Friendly) each hit a trio of three pointers and finished with 12.
Freshman Vance Washington (Winchester, Va./Handley) also canned three triples and tied his career high with 11 points. Eli Crawford (Staunton, Va./R.E. Lee) made his mark on the boards, leading all players with 10 rebounds.
EMU didn’t allow any of the WildCats to score in double figures. Leading scorer Colton Hunt was limited to just five points, 11.5 below his season average.
The Runnin Royals have now won three in a row since losing at Randolph on Jan. 22 and are 16-4 overall and 7-4 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. The WildCats fall to 15-6 and 8-4 in the ODAC. EMU is at rival Bridgewater next Wednesday.