LYNCHBURG, VA --- Limited by cold shooting from beyond the arc, EMU's women played a few points down most of the day before suffering their first ODAC loss of the year, 70-66, at Lynchburg. Eastern Mennonite, 11-3 overall, falls to 5-1 in league play while the preseason favorite Hornets step up to 5-1. The two teams meet again in Harrisonburg on Feb. 14.
The Royals shot just 21.4% from three point range and also had 22 turnovers, their most in five games. As a result they trailed much of the first half. EMU was on top 22-21 after a layup from Shakeerah Sykes (Dumfries, Va./Forest Park) with 5:16 to go in the first, but Lynchburg controlled the final minutes of the frame, running into halftime on a 12-2 streak to lead 33-24.
Eastern Mennonite made a strong push to open the second, shaving into the LC lead and eventually getting in front 44-43 on an Alicia Ygarza (Conestoga, Pa./Penn Manor) layup at the 10:55 mark.
The Hornets responded by scoring the next eight points, however, to regain their edge. EMU re-tied the score at 54-54 when Marla zumFelde (Goshen, Ind./Bethany Christian) hit her first three pointer with 4:49 left to play. But the women went cold again, missing their next five shots and missing the front end of a bonus free throw as Lynchburg rebuilt a 62-54 lead with 1:43 to go.
Jess Rheinheimer (Manheim, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) hit a triple with 33 seconds left to trim the deficit to 65-62, but after two LC free throws, the women missed three shots in the paint to seal their defeat. The Hornets made 7-of-8 free throws over the final 42 seconds to hold on to the four-point win.
Despite the cold shooting, including just 8-18 from the free throw line, the Royals stayed in the contest by grabbing 20 offensive rebounds and holding a 48-37 edge on the glass.
Rheinheimer scored a game high 19 points and had three blocks. Sykes was limited by foul trouble but scored 18 points with 12 rebounds in just 21 minutes of play. It was her sixth double in the last seven games.
Ygarza added eight points while Alisa Brown (Dumfries, Va./Forest Park) led the team with six assists. Nora Osei (Springfield, Va./West Springfield) was a force off the bench, finishing with nine rebounds and seven points.
Shannon Allan led five Hornets in double figures with 17 points. Sarah Coon racked up 11 rebounds, including five offensive, coming off the bench.
The Royals, now in a three-way tie atop the ODAC standings with LC and Randolph-Macon, return home on Wednesday, hosting Shenandoah University at 7:00pm in Yoder Arena.