BRIDGEWATER, VA --- EMU's basketball men wrapped up their play at the Don Glick Classic on Bridgewater on Saturday with an 85-74 loss to Averett. The USA South's preseason favorite, Averett hit enough key shots to pick up their fourth win in five tries against ODAC teams so far this year.
The Runnin Royals, who ran into a much different team from the Cougars who shot just 32% in Friday's come-from-behind 57-54 win over host Bridgewater, slide to 5-4 with the loss. AU improves to 7-1.
Eastern Mennonite now has a week off for final exams as they prepare for their game of the first semester next Saturday. The Royals host Messiah College on Dec. 19 as part of a men's and women's doubleheader for Alumni Appreciation Day. EMU's women play Hood at 1:00pm, followed by the men at 3:00pm.
Saturday's game was tight until the midway point of the first. EMU rattled off a quick 6-0 run in less than minute to go ahead 18-14, but the Cougars used their own 6-0 run, consisting entirely of free throws, to re-gain the lead.
Back-to-back threes put the Royals back on top, 25-23, before Averett hit three consecutive triples to surge ahead. Charles Bryant eventually put in a layup to cap a 16-0 run for the Cougars, exploding open a 39-25 cushion.
The margin stood at 43-28 with 5:40 left in the half when Eastern Mennonite's men turned on the defense. Over the remainder of the half, the Royals forced six turnovers and held Averett without a field goal in three attempts. They scored 11 unanswered points to get with four. After a Cougar free throw, Christian Hansen (Manassas Park, Va./Osbourn Park) hit a couple of buckets and Khalil Davis (Harrisonburg, Va./Spotswood) sliced to the hoop for a layup, surging EMU in front, 45-44, with 28 ticks left. It was a 17-1 run.
Averett had the final say in the half, however, getting a break with a loose ball foul after a missed shot with 0.9 showing on the clock. Carter Jones made both free throws to put AU ahead 46-45 at the break.
The second half belonged to the senior-laden Cougars. They stormed out of the locker rooms with a 10-2 run before adding a 9-0 streak to go up 67-52 at the 11:23 mark. Averett's biggest lead was at 75-57 with 6:53 remaining.
Davis scored five straight points to get EMU rolling. The Cougars got a layup, but the men answered with triples from Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md./St. Maria Goretti) and Maleke Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) to chisel within single digits at 77-68 with 3:58 still to play. But Averett answered with a long three from Trevor West as time expired on the shot clock to kill the Royals' momentum. They wouldn't get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
After shooting 60.7% in the first half, Eastern Mennonite hit just 29.4% of their second-half shots, including 4-of-18 from outside. They finished 43.5% for the game, while Averett shot at 49.2% overall, including 10-21 from three.
Hansen scored a game high 20 points with 11 rebounds for his second consecutive double double. Davis put in 15 with three assists off the bench. Jerome Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) was limited to 10 points and Harris-Winn finished with nine. Both of EMU's leading scorers were more than five points below their season average. Maleke Jones scored eight points with eight assists.
Bryant led Averett with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Carter Jones also scored 15.
Christian Hansen and Jerome Jones were named to the Don Glick Classic All-Tournament Team following play, as EMU went 1-1. Hansen, back in the starting lineup after missing a few games with an injury, notched his first two collegiate double doubles and averaged 16.0 points and 10.5 rebounds. Jones averaged 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game at the Classic.