SALEM, VA --- During their recent winning streak, the Runnin Royals have made a habit of grabbing the lead early and staying in front. They did the same thing in Friday's ODAC Tournament quarterfinal matchup, jumping on fourth-seeded Lynchburg from the start and never letting up in a 93-81 win.
With the mild upset, fifth-seeded Eastern Mennonite (17-10) advances to the semifinals, where they will take on eighth-seeded Hampden-Sydney (15-12) Saturday at 6:00pm in the Salem Civic Center. The Tigers knocked off top-seeded Randolph-Macon, 68-55.
The Royals, now riding a six-game winning streak, lost twice to the H-SC this season. The men's last loss before the streak was a 79-68 decision at Hampden-Sydney on Feb. 8.
Marcel Crump (Richmond, Va./Highland Springs) scored the first points Friday afternoon on a pair of free throws. Lynchburg tied it at 2-2, but the game belonged to EMU after that. An 8-0 run pushed the edge to 19-9. After an LC bucket, the Royals rattled off another 11 in a row, as a Ryan Yates (Alexandria, Va./T.C. Williams) jumper made it 30-11 with 7:52 left in the half.
Despite EMU's impressive 19-2 run, the Hornets came back with 10 straight points to get back within 30-21. Needing momentum into the half, the Royals returned fire with another 11-0 run to push the edge back to 20. Lynchburg added a late bucket to make it 41-23 at halftime, but all things totaled, the Royals ended the period on a 30-14 streak.
The men simply held off the Hornets in the second, as LC made a few small runs but would get no closer than 11 points. Yates scored 23 points in the second half to provide much of the offense, and David Falk (Madison, Va./Madison County) seemed to rebound every shot missed by Lynchburg to help preserve the win.
Eastern Mennonite shot 56% in the second half and totaled 49% for the game. Lynchburg never got their offense going, finishing at 36% from the floor and just 3-of-17 from outside. They grabbed 18 offensive rebounds to stay competitive.
Yates came in with a career high 34 points on 10-17 shooting, to go with nine rebounds, four steals and three assists. He was also 12-18 from the free throw line, coming one short of Crump's record set earlier this year of 19 free throw attempts in a game.
Falk toppled a number of records in the game, finishing with 16 points and 28 rebounds. The All-ODAC First Teamer broke Larry Sheets' EMU record of 25 rebounds in a game, which was set in 1980. Falk also broke the ODAC Tournament record and the overall ODAC record. The NCAA mark for rebounds is 36. The junior also broke Sheets' record of 353 rebounds in a season, as he now has 371.
Crump finished with 16 points and three assists, while James Williams (Capitol Heights, Md./Archbishop Carroll) hit a pair of triples and finished with 12.
Senior Manny Hernandez led Lynchburg with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Alex Graves also had a double double at 20 points and 12 boards.
Saturday will mark the Runnin Royals' first trip to the ODAC Tournament semifinals since 2011. They haven't gone to the championship game since 1983.