HARRISONBURG, VA --- The opening six minutes went OK. It was the next four that cost the Royals.
Visiting Southern Virginia ended the first period on a 13-3 tear, opening up a margin they would never relinquish on Tuesday, handing Eastern Mennonite a 75-70 loss in Harrisonburg.
The loss was EMU's third in row, all by close margins. The Royals slide to 1-3 as they prepare for their ODAC opener on Saturday, hosting Ferrum College at 2:00pm. This will be the first game in the conference for one of Ferrum's marquee programs.
Against the Knights (3-1), the 21-12 deficit after the first period proved too hard to overcome. EMU made a number of short runs in the second, but Southern Virginia had an answer each time. The Knights led at halftime, 43-30.
The Royals came out with renewed vigor in the third, starting with a defensive stop and a bucket from Jess Washington (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge). EMU kept making two baskets to SVU's one, and eventually sliced the margin to 47-44 midway through the frame. A Lindsey Krisak (Alexandria, Va./Thomas A. Edison) jumper with a minute left gave the women a 22-10 quarter score, trimming the lead to 53-52 after three.
EMU opened the final frame with the ball, but missed a three pointer that would have given them their first lead since the 4:07 mark of the first. Southern Virginia answered with a three of their own, however, to keep the edge.
On two separate occasions, Jourdyn Friend (Richmond, Va./Meadowbrook) scored to get the Royals within one point before SVU hit back-to-back threes to build a little space. The lead ballooned up to nine before EMU answered with a 7-0 jab, getting five points from Lexi Deffenbaugh (Fishersville, Va./Wilson Memorial) and a layup from Lexi Dean (Elkton, Va./East Rockingham) to get within 67-65 with 2:26 remaining.
The Knights pushed the lead back to 73-67, but a three from Emily McCombs (Culpeper, Va./Eastern View) made it a 73-70 game with 26 seconds to play. Needing to foul, the Royals unfortunately needed to commit four fouls before putting SVU in the bonus, losing precious time off the close. A pair of free throws with five seconds left sealed it, 75-70.
Southern Virginia made the difference by out-shooting EMU, 48% to 38%, and controlling the boards, 50-26, including 19 offensive rebounds. The Royals hung around by forcing 23 turnovers for a +12 margin, and running for a 23-2 advantage in points scored on the break.
McCombs hit half of her eight three-point attempts, scoring a game high 18 points. It was the sophomore's third straight double-digit scoring effort. Washington added 10 points and five rebounds.
Dean had eight points and six boards off the bench, while Friend came in with six and three. Deffenbaugh was good for eight points and four assists.
Savannah Christenson led Southern Virginia with 17 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots. Katie Garrish added 14 points, nine rebounds and five blocks of her own.