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Royals Notch ODAC Win Over Guilford, 60-50

34 - Shakeerah Sykes_1902Z

The women have done it again.  As is starting to become common, the Royals ended the game on a big run, taking an impressive 60-50 win from ODAC-leader Guilford Saturday afternoon in Harrisonburg.

Against the Quakers, who entered on an 11-game winning streak and the last remaining team without a loss in conference play, Eastern Mennonite closed on a 24-11 run over the final 12:13.  With both team playing their second contest in less than 24 hours, Guilford simply ran out of gas against the athletic and deeper Royals.

The visitors led by as many as five in the back-and-forth game.  But with the Quakers on top 39-36, Bianca Ygarza (Conestoga, PA/Penn Manor) got loose down low for a layup.  After a pair of GC turnovers, senior Marla Young (Fishersville, VA/Wilson Memorial) banked in a triple from the top of the key and the women picked up steam.

Another quick 5-0 spurt pushed EMU up 46-41.  The teams traded points before the Royals clamped on the defense, holding the Quakers scoreless for a key stretch of 4:28.  Suddenly the women led 56-45 with less than four minutes to play.

The worn-out Guilford women could get no closer than eight points the rest of the way, as Eastern Mennonite coasted out to the 10-point win.

Shakeerah Sykes (Dumfries, VA/Forest Park) was 6-for-9 from the floor and led the women with a career high 14 points and nine rebounds.  Ygarza had a double double with 11 points and 11 boards.

Stephanie Rheinheimer (Manheim, PA/Lancaster Mennonite) also scored 11, while Keyla Baltimore (Bristow, VA/Brentsville District) added a game high six assists.

After allowing their opponents to shoot 52% from the floor in the first half, the Royals limited GC to just 36% in the second.  Baltimore was key, as she did much of the work in limiting the Quakers’ Jazlyn Gibbs (Greensboro, NC/Southeast Guilford) to just two second-half points.  Gibbs had 17 in the first.

“Keyla did a great job limiting Jazlyn Gibbs,” EMU Coach Kevin Griffin said.  “It’s hard to single out a player or two, but I thought she and Shakeerah had great games.”

The Royals forced Guilford into 20 turnovers and had a 41-36 edge in rebounding.  The women also ripped out 19 offensive boards.

“I felt we really played hard,” said Griffin.  “Not that we don’t in other games, but we really did today.  To limit Guilford to 50 points is really impressive.”

The effort also showed at the free throw line, where EMU took 26 charity tosses compared to just 14 for the Quakers.

Eastern Mennonite moves to 11-1 with the win.  Both teams are now 8-1 in the ODAC, just a half game behind first-place Virginia Wesleyan, which is 9-1 in league play.

The Royals now start meeting conference teams for a second time, as they travel at Hollins next Tuesday.  EMU won the previous matchup 67-40 on Dec. 3.

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