When the two teams met in November, Eastern Mennonite needed a big second half to grab a win at Bridgewater. Tuesday night in Harrisonburg, the Royals never trailed. But they did need to weather a tense final minutes before securing a 66-65 victory to extend their winning streak to eight games.
For the first time since the opening tip, the Eagles tied the score at 62-62 with a Jenny Logan (Luray, VA/Luray) three pointer with just 45 seconds left. But EMU stayed calm and worked the ball inside to Kala Yoders (Myerstown, PA/ELCO), who put in a layup with 29 seconds left to put the women back up by two.
Looking for another tie, BC tried to go inside, but Stephanie Rheinheimer (Manheim, PA/Lancaster Mennonite) picked off a pass in the lane and was quickly fouled by the Eagles. With 15 seconds remaining, the sophomore netted both free throws, sandwiched around a BC timeout, to give Eastern Mennonite a 66-62 lead.
After an offensive rebound, Jessica Mullen (Purcellville, VA/Loudoun Valley) nailed a triple for the Eagles with less than a second to go, but that was it as EMU escaped with the one-point win.
To start the game, the Royals scored the first four points and led by as many as nine in the half. Bianca Ygarza (Conestoga, PA/Penn Manor) put in a layup just before the break to give EMU a 31-23 edge at intermission.
A Rheinheimer three and free throw from Yoders gave the women their biggest lead of the game at 35-25. After point guard Keyla Baltimore (Bristow, VA/Brentsville District) sat for a few minutes with an injury, Bridgewater responded and cut the lead to two at 37-35, but EMU came right back and put the edge back to as high as nine points.
The Eagles used a 15-6 run over 6:30 to tie the game with Logan’s three-pointer, but Eastern Mennonite had the final say in the rivalry win.
“We didn’t play great and we didn’t play awful,” said EMU Coach Kevin Griffin. “That’s indicative of an EMU/Bridgewater game. But when push came to shove our girls made plays. Even after Jenny Logan hit that three, we played with poise and kept battling.”
Four Royals scored in double figures, led by Ygarza who had her sixth double double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Yoders was right behind with 12 points, nine boards and a career best five assists.
Rheinheimer finished with 10 points and six assists. She was also key down the stretch, assisting on Yoders’ go-ahead bucket, then getting the steal and clinching free throws.
Alisa Brown (Dumfries, VA/Forest Park) added 10 points and Marla zumFelde (Goshen, IN/Bethany Christian) poured in eight points in just eight minutes of playing time.
“Marla gave us some good minutes,” Griffin said of his freshman. “She’s getting better and getting more comfortable.”
Baltimore had a quiet night offensively, but made her mark on defense. She helped hold Mullen, the reigning ODAC Player of the Week, scoreless in the first half. Mullen didn’t score until after Baltimore rested in the second with her injury. She did finish with 18 points to lead Bridgewater. Logan chimed in 15 and Katelynn Hottinger (Linville, VA/Broadway) was good for 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Eagles had a 41-34 edge in rebounding, but also committed 18 turnovers to just 12 for EMU. BC also out-shot the Royals, 47% to 37%. Eastern Mennonite made up the difference by hitting six three pointers and going 14-20 from the free throw line compared to 4-10 for BC.
The win is the eighth in a row for the young Royals, as they improve to 14-1 overall and 11-1 in the ODAC. EMU is also 10-0 at home this season, and hasn’t lost in Yoder Arena since Nov. 29, 2010. That game was a 62-42 decision to Bridgewater. Since then, the Royals have won 18 in row at home.
Next up is a home date with Randolph College this Friday night. Game time is 7:00pm.