HARRISONBURG, VA --- Bianca Ygarza (Conestoga, PA/Penn Manor) converted an offensive put-back with 1.3 seconds left as Eastern Mennonite upset nationally ranked Mary Washington Tuesday in Harrisonburg, 56-54. The Royals improve to 3-3 and end a tough season-opening stretch which included five opponents who went to the NCAA Tournament last year.
The physical Eagles, who finished 30-1 a year ago, scored the first six points in the contest. But EMU quickly showed they could handle their visitors and tied the score at 8-8.
The women eventually worked to a 22-16 advantage, their biggest of the game, when Raiven Patterson (Pulaski, VA/Pulaski County) hit a jumper with 4:26 left in the first half. Mary Washington responded by scoring the next 11 points to leapfrog back in front, and led at halftime 27-24.
The teams traded leads in the second, with the Eagles getting a three-point play to go up 49-46 with 4:22 remaining. Eastern Mennonite turned up their defense from there and attacked the hoop on offense, and the momentum swung in favor of the home team.
Jess Rheinheimer (Manheim, PA/Lancaster Mennonite) converted a three-point play of her own to tie the game at 49-49. The Royals scored the next five points from the free throw line, going up 54-49 at the 2:08 mark. The five-point lead was the biggest for either team in the second half.
Mary Washington responded with their own 5-0 run, however, finally re-tying the game at 54-54 with one of two free throws with 21.2 seconds left.
After a timeout, EMU set up for the last shot, but the Eagles' defense knocked the women out of their play. Point guard Keyla Baltimore (Bristow, VA/Brentsville District) responded by attacking the hoop, hoping to draw a foul. No whistles blew on her attempt, but Ygarza slipped in for the offensive rebound underneath the hoop and quickly put in the layup, giving the Royals the lead with 1.3 seconds left.
The Eagles travelled when they inbounded the ball and couldn't get a final shot off, and Eastern Mennonite celebrated the upset. Mary Washington was ranked No. 19 in this week's USA Today Sports poll, and No. 25 in the D3hoops.com poll.
The game featured 13 lead changes, including 11 in the second half. EMU shot just 30% in the win, compared to UMW's 42%, but made up the difference in free throws and turnovers. The Royals forced Mary Washington into 27 turnovers, eight more than their season average. Eastern Mennonite also made a living at the free throw line, going 23-for-33 compared to 13-for-14 for the Eagles.
Ygarza finished with a team high 15 points as well as three steals. She was 7-10 from the free throw line. Sisters Steph Rheinheimer (Manheim, PA/Lancaster Mennonite) and Jess Rheinheimer each scored nine points, with Jess adding three steals.
Patterson tallied seven points and grabbed four of EMU's 15 steals.
Sam Partonen (Burke, VA/Robinson) led all players with 16 points, but was also hassled into eight turnovers. Carol Dye (Springfield, VA/Lake Braddock) added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Eagles.
The Royals have a few days to celebrate their big win before hosting ODAC rival Roanoke on Saturday. Game time in Yoder Arena is 2:00pm.