EMU’s basketball men got in a good warmup to the 2018-19 season Tuesday night, playing an exhibition at James Madison University. This was the third time in four years that the Runnin Royals played their D-I neighbors.
While the Dukes broke open a close game midway through the first and took an 86-58 decision, Eastern Mennonite can build on a number of good things when they officially open the season Thursday night at Averett.
Despite trailing 48-27 at the half, the Royals opened the second with a three pointer from Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire). The men stepped up their defense and drew fouls on the offensive end, staying within 67-50 after a lay-up from Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md./Northern) with 8:05 to play.
Over those first 12 minutes of the second half, EMU out-scored the Dukes 23-19.
Darius Banks answered with back-to-back buckets, however, and JMU scored 10 straight to open up a 77-50 margin and quell any thoughts of a comeback.
The Royals turned their opponents over 10 times in the second half and also drew 11 fouls on the Dukes.
For the game, JMU had a shooting edge at 48.6% to 42.4%. EMU earned 13 offensive rebounds against the taller Dukes while giving up an overall margin of 44-35.
Thomas came close to a double double with team highs of 11 points and eight rebounds. Xavier McCants (Olney, Md./Sherwood) put in 10 points, while Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) had eight points and a game high six assists. Clower notched seven points and three steals. Josh Good (Luray, Va./Luray) added seven rebounds off the bench.
Banks led James Madison with 22 points, nine rebounds, seven steals and five assists.
Game time at Averett Thursday night is at 7 p.m.