SALEM, VA --- Eastern Mennonite's year came to an end Friday afternoon, as top-seeded Virginia Wesleyan held off the Runnin Royals in the ODAC Tournament Quarterfinals. The Royals had a big run early in the second to get within two points, but the Marlins regrouped and pushed to an 83-65 win.
The two teams went back and forth early on, with David Falk (Madison, VA/Madison) converting a three-point play to put EMU ahead 14-9. Dorian Valentine (Bassett, VA/Carlisle) hit a layup at 12:43 to give the men what turned out to be their final lead at 16-14.
Virginia Wesleyan responded with a 7-0 run to take over the lead, and then closed the half on a 14-6 streak to lead 40-28 at halftime.
The Marlins scored the first three points of the second before EMU caught fire. Senior Owen Longacre (Telford, PA/Christopher Dock) started a surge with two free throws with 18:05 remaining. The Royals scored nine straight to get, then after a VWC bucket, Andrew Thorne (Front Royal, VA/Skyline) hit a triple and R.J. Sims (Fort Washington, MD/Friendly) converted a three-point play to cap a 15-2 surge.
In a span of less than four minutes, the men slashed a 15-point deficit down to two at 45-43, but Virginia Wesleyan had the answer. The Marlins scored the next nine points in the game to expand their cushion back up to 54-43.
EMU came back and whittled the lead to six when Sims canned a three pointer with 9:05 to go, making it 58-52. But VWC had the answer again, scoring a quick five in a row.
The Royals were still within seven points with 4:04 left, when Sims hit a free throw to make it 67-60. But a turnover and a missed shot turned into six straight points for Virginia Wesleyan and the men never recovered. They scored just five points over the final four minutes as the Marlins closed on a 16-5 run to provide the deceptive final margin.
The men shot 40% from the floor including a solid 41% from outside, hitting 7-of-17 three pointers. But free throw and turnovers cost EMU. The Royals committed 20 miscues compared to just nine for VWC. At the free throw line, the men were 14-for-25 for 56% while the Marlins hit 22-of-28 for 79%.
Sims scored 16 of his team high 18 points in the second half. In his final collegiate game, Thorne drilled a career best four three pointers and tallied 16 points. He finishes with 1,053 points in his career and is No. 20 on the EMU Career Scoring list and just missed the top 15 of the Career Rebounding list with his 527 boards.
Falk pulled down a game high 11 rebounds to go with his six points and three assists. Longacre was good for six points and six boards in his final outing. Adam Burroughs (Roanoke, VA/Northside) had three assists.
Chris Teasley (Newport News, VA/Menchville) carried the scoring burden for the Marlins, going 12-for-18 from the field for 28 points. VWC's two leading scorers, Chris Astorga (Suffolk, VA/Cape Henry) and DJ Woodmore (Virginia Beach, VA/Landstown) , combined for just 16 points on just 4-for-20 shooting.
The Royals end the year with a record of 15-12. Their two seniors, Andrew Thorne and Owen Longacre, leave as the EMU class with the most wins as they went 74-37 in their four seasons.