EMORY, Va. – The Emory & Henry College Men's Basketball Team (7-5, 1-2 ODAC) made it five wins in a row with an 86-80 victory over visiting Lynchburg College (8-4, 1-2 ODAC) Tuesday evening at the John Rutledge King Center. It was the Wasps' first victory over the Hornets, who were picked to finish second in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference this year, since the 2009 season when they won 89-74 on the road.
E&H's five-game winning streak is the most since reeling off seven straight victories between February 4 and February 21 in the 2003-04 season. Justin Call was named the Curt Axe Memorial ODAC Player of the Year and was the recipient of the Jostens Trophy after that campaign.
Lynchburg started things off with a 7-2 lead, extending the advantage to 19-10 with 12:55 on the clock. The Wasps responded with the next 10 points to go up 20-19 at the 9:18 mark of the half. The two squads traded four more lead changes with a pair of ties through the next six-and-a-half minutes before E&H took the lead for good with just under three minutes to play in the opening half, leading 43-37 at the intermission.
"Our kids have hung in there and worked hard throughout the early part of the season. The result is a noticeable level of progress which is enabling us to beat good teams. The exciting thing for this young team is that we are not scratching the surface of how good we can be. We have been working hard to improve defensively, which I think is the key for us to be playing our best basketball in February and March. We are not there yet but we are on the right track," commented Head Coach David Willson after the victory.
Emory & Henry claimed its first double-digit lead of the contest thanks to a 13-7 run to start the second half. The Wasps extended their advantage to 15 (63-48) before a 9-2 scoring spurt by the Hornets got the margin back to single digits with 6:09 to play. Lynchburg remained a threat through the closing moments of the game but Emory & Henry shot 20-of-23 (87%) rom the free throw line in the second half to hold off any true chance of a comeback.
The Wasps saw five players reach double figures in scoring, led by sophomore guard John Shelor (Giles, Va.) with 16 points on a game-high four three-pointers. Freshman guard Clif Conley (Galax, Va.) had 15 points on four-for-four shooting while sophomore forward Chase Branscomb (Bristol, Tenn.) pitched in 14 points and five boards off the bench. Junior guard Myles Turner (Richmond, Va.) notched 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists and junior guard Ryan Gravley (Austinville, Va.) registered 10 points and six assists, scoring six points at the charity stripe. Freshman forward Aaron Ferguson (Princeton, W.Va.) chipped in eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Emory & Henry shot just 39.7 percent (23-for-58) from the field, but their 31-for-38 (81.6%) outing at the free throw line proved to be the difference-maker. The Wasps also held a 40-22 advantage on bench scoring and led 20-14 in points off turnovers.
Alex Graves and Lyndon White were the bright spots for the Hornets, putting up 23 and 20 points, respectively as the games top two scorers. Graves went nine-for-15 from the field and had six rebounds while White tallied a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Zack Burnett added nine points for Lynchburg, which outscored E&H by nearly a two-to-one margin in the paint, 36-20. LC outrebounded E&H 39-36, five more turnovers negated the advantage.
Emory & Henry will put its win streak to the test on Saturday when it takes to the road for an ODAC game against Bridgewater College. The Wasps and Eagles will play a doubleheader with the men tipping-off at 2:00 p.m., while the women's game will follow at 4:30 p.m.
-photo courtesy of Caleb Johnston, E&H '15