HARRISONBURG, Va. – There were nine ties, including two in the fourth quarter, but in the end, the Old Dominion Athletic Conference preseason favorites, the Eastern Mennonite Royals (8-4, 3-1 ODAC) were able to hold on for the 60-54 victory in Saturday afternoon ODAC Women's Basketball action at Yoder Arena in Harrisonburg.
Randolph-Macon (9-3, 2-2 ODAC) took the early lead 9-5 after junior Jayla Wade (Newport News, Va. / Heritage) and freshman Becca Arrington (Amelia, Va. / Amelia Academy) made jumpers in the third minute of the game – with Arrington's shot being worth three. The Yellow Jackets kept the Royals at arm's length for much of the period until the 2:33 mark. That's when EMU began a 6-0 run that helped them take the lead in the closing moments of the first quarter. Wade made a jumper in the final seconds to tie the game at 18 each going into the second quarter. Sophomore Kelly Williams (Garysburg, N.C. / Halifax Academy) led the way for the Yellow Jackets with six points, eight rebounds and three blocks in the period. Arrington went 2-3 from beyond the arc, tallying six points while sophomore Charlotte Woods (Richmond, Va. / Trinity) added a bucket and three assists.
EMU used the momentum to jump out to the five-point lead early in the second half, 23-18. R-MC battled back as Woods and Williams each made layups to cut the deficit to one. EMU jumped back out by five with six minutes to go in the frame and R-MC repeated the scenario, this time with freshman Elise Knobloch (Glenville, Pa. / Delone Catholic) and Woods adding layups to cut the deficit to 27-26. After a jumper by EMU, junior Kelsey Wisner (York, Pa. / Central York) made a three-pointer to tie the game at 29 with 4:08 to go in the quarter. With the Royals taking slim lead margins and another tie in the final minutes of the frame, EMU held the halftime advantage by two, 34-32. Williams tallied four points and three rebounds as well as a block in the quarter. Woods added four points and three rebounds.
EMU repeated its second quarter efforts again in the third – gaining the early momentum and pushing the lead to seven, 41-34 in the first two minutes of the quarter. But Wade made a free throw and Woods and Williams hit layups to bring the lead back within two 41-39. The Royals made another basket with 4:05 to go, pushing their lead back to 43-39. That's where the lead was deadlocked for nearly three minutes until EMU pushed the lead back up to seven, 46-39. Woods made a layup in the final seconds, but the Royals still took the advantage into the final frame, 46-41. Woods again led the way for the Yellow Jackets in the period with six points and six rebounds.
The fourth quarter was where Randolph-Macon began its fight back. Woods hit a pair of free throws to pull the game within three and Wisner added another free throw to take the game to 46-44 in favor of the Royals. Wade tied the game at 46 with a basket with 8:25 to go, but EMU regained the lead on the very next possession. Knobloch was able to tie the game at 49 with 6:55 to go, but EMU again made a basket just seconds later. That basket would prove to be the difference maker as Randolph-Macon could not bring the game any closer than two for the rest of the fourth quarter, dropping the game 60-54.
R-MC outscored EMU in second chance opportunities 21-3 and outrebounded the Royals 53-45. Woods led all scorers with 16 points, 16 rebounds and a pair of blocks. She also stole the ball twice. Williams added 15 points and 22 rebounds and nine blocks as well as dishing out four assists. Wade and Wisner each had a pair of assists, with Wade tallying seven points and Wisner adding four. Knobloch totaled six points and pulled in five rebounds while Arrington finished with her six first quarter points. Junior Leara Shumate (Fishersville, Va. / Wilson Memorial) pulled in two rebounds in the game.
Randolph-Macon next faces Virginia Wesleyan on Tuesday at 7:00 PM in Crenshaw Gymnasium.