HARRISONBURG, VA --- The Eastern Mennonite basketball men hosted nationally-regarded Christopher Newport in a non-conference battle Sunday night but came out on the short end of a 68-59 decision. Despite playing the Captains' style of game most of the night, it took a late run for the visitors, effectively ranked No. 32 in the latest D3hoops.com national poll, to stretch out to the final margin.
The teams traded leads throughout the first half, but CNU used a late 6-0 run to take a 33-28 lead into halftime.
The Captains fended off EMU in the second until the home team finally got back in front on two James Williams (Capitol Heights, Md./Archbishop Carroll) free throws with 7:04 left made it 50-49. After Christopher Newport made a bucket, RJ Sims (Fort Washington, Md./Friendly) drained a three pointer to keep the men in front, 53-51.
CNU's Mike Cherry canned a big three to trigger a game-changing 11-0 run over the next three minutes. During the span, the Runnin Royals were 0-3 from the floor and 0-4 from the free throw line, as the Captains took a 62-53 cushion with 2:43 to play.
Eastern Mennonite fought back and got within 62-57, but the visitors iced it down the stretch by going 4-for-5 from the free throw line and grabbing two key offensive rebounds.
CNU had a slight edge in almost every statistical category, with the biggest coming in three point shooting and rebounding. The Captains were 6-13 from outside, while EMU was 2-10. Despite being an inch or two shorter than the Royals at most positions, the visitors also had a 38-30 rebounding advantage, including 13 offensive boards.
Marcel Crump (Richmond, Va./Highland Springs) led Eastern Mennonite with 19 points and three assists. Williams was a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line and had a season best 15 points. Sims came in with 13 points and six rebounds. David Falk (Madison, Va./Madison) had a team high 10 rebounds along with three blocked shots.
Tra Benefield topped CNU with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Evan Thorpe added 15 counters.
The Royals slip to 3-3 with the loss. They will be looking for their first ODAC win when they head to Roanoke this Saturday night with a 7:00pm tip-off.