HARRISONBURG, VA --- The Runnin Royals hit 50% of their shots for the first time this calendar year, including a season high 12 three pointers, as they rolled over visiting Randolph College on Saturday, 83-62.
Maleke Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) gave the men a 5-3 lead less than two minutes in, and they never gave it up in earning their second win in three games. EMU held Randolph to just 8-of-29 shooting in the first 20 minutes, when they built a 16-point lead. They ended up out-shooting the WildCats 50% to 43%, their first time making at least half of their shots since a 52% performance in an 89-72 win over Frostburg State on Dec. 20.
At the midway point of the ODAC season, Eastern Mennonite sits at 2-6 in league play. With a run in the second half, the Royals could make a push for an ODAC Tournament First Round home game, if not a bye to the quarterfinals, with fourth place Guilford just three games ahead of them at 5-3.
The men hit the road to Randolph-Macon on Wednesday. The Yellow Jackets (13-4/7-1 ODAC) just suffered their first ODAC loss on Saturday, a 75-65 at first-place Emory & Henry.
Eastern Mennonite used tough defense to gain the edge early against Randolph (4-13/1-7 ODAC). After Maleke Jones answered a WildCat three with one of his own for a 5-3 edge, the Royals methodically worked out to 21-11 lead. They pinned a scoreless spell on Randolph of more than four minutes to trigger an 8-0 run.
Over a span of 11:19, Eastern Mennonite only gave up two field goals and a pair of free throws, turning a small 13-11 edge into a 35-18 domination. They lead 38-22 at halftime.
In the second, Randolph scraped the margin down to 10 points at 45-35. But Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md./St. Maria Goretti) nailed a three before picking out a steal and hitting Travis Clower (Romney, W.V./Hampshire) for another three to quickly bump the lead back to 16. The visitors would get no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
Tying their season high with 10 steals, Eastern Mennonite had a +8 turnover margin. They finished 32-64 from the floor, including 12-27 from outside. The 44% clip from three point range was their second highest percentage of the season.
Harris-Winn buried 5-of-9 treys and scored 23 points with four assists. All three of those totals were season highs. Maleke Jones tallied 18 points, including four longballs, and tied his career high with five steals.
Clower missed just one shot and had 12 points and two blocked shots. Jerome Jones (Charles Town, W.V./Washington) scored all eight of his points in the crucial first half, while Xavier McCants (Olney, Md./Sherwood) scored four in each half for his total of eight.
Ryan Fields led Randolph with 10 points. Reid Jacoby had nine points and five assists.