HARRISONBURG, VA --- Last year they did it to end the regular season. This year EMU's women did it a week earlier. Matched up against a much taller Lynchburg basketball team, the Royals used their speed to be the major factor in the game, rolling to a 59-43 win in Harrisonburg.
With the win, Eastern Mennonite (19-3, 13-1 ODAC) clinches at least a share of the ODAC regular season crown for the fourth straight season. They also extend their home winning streak to 29 straight games, dating back more than two years to January 2013.
Lynchburg falls to 11-3 in league play, but stays in a second-place tie with Randolph-Macon as the Yellow Jackets were upset at Emory & Henry, 85-84.
In EMU's 76-46 win over Lynchburg in the 2013-14 season finale, the women held LC to just 28% shooting. On Saturday, the women pinned the Hornets to season lows of 21% shooting and 43 total points.
Despite missing a few shots early, the Royals scored the first three points and never trailed. Jess Rheinheimer (Manheim, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) hit a layup to make the score 11-4 just 5:27 into play, forcing the visitors to call a timeout. The lead grew to 24-9 at the 9:17 mark, and EMU finally got their biggest lead of the half at 30-14 with 4:23 left. The women led 34-22 at the intermission.
Lynchburg crashed the boards in the second half, grabbing 10 of their 17 offensive boards in the frame. A quick 6-0 run sliced EMU's lead down to 47-41 with 11:24 to play.
Although the Royals never really got their offense going again, they allowed just two more points the rest of the game, closing on a 12-2 streak in an impressive effort.
Eastern Mennonite shot 22-59 from the floor for 37%, but the defense hampered LC all afternoon to a 14-66 outing at 21%. The Hornets were only 1-17 from three point range.
The Royals racked up a season high seven blocked shots, led by four from Marla zumFelde (Goshen, Ind./Bethany Christian). Rheinheimer added three swats, while notching a double double at 18 points and 10 rebounds. Shakeerah Sykes (Dumfries, Va./Forest Park) struggled from the floor but grabbed a career best 17 rebounds to go with 10 points. Alisa Brown (Dumfries, Va./Forest Park) spent much of the day slowing down LC's top player, Shannon Allan, and still scored nine points with four assists.
Allan led the Hornets with 15 points and three blocks. Charmaine Hairston scored eight points but shot just 3-19 from the floor. Chaney Forbush had 11 rebounds.
Eastern Mennonite plays three games next week to wrap up the regular season, starting with a road date at rival Bridgewater College on Tuesday. The ODAC Tournament is the following week, and the Royals have already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals which start in Salem on Friday, Feb. 26.