EMU Gets D3 Bid
HARRISONBURG — For the second straight season, the Eastern Mennonite University women’s basketball team has received an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The Royals will play against Christopher Newport University on Friday in a pod hosted by Ferrum College. The game time has not yet been announced.
EMU (22-5) lost to Guilford in the semifinals of last weekend’s Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament, making the following days extra stressful for coach Kevin Griffin.
“I think it came down to the wire,” Griffin said of the bid. “I think it weighed on all of us. We don’t want to take anything for granted, and we’re not taking our season for granted. We knew that it was out of our hands at that point.”
Griffin said d3hoops.com, a website that covers Division III men’s and women’s basketball, did not have the Royals in the field of 64 teams. It helped, however, that heavy favorites Rhodes, Randolph-Macon and Texas-Tyler all won their respective conference tournaments, freeing up more at-large spots.
The Royals squeaked out a win against Shenandoah in the quarterfinals of the ODAC tournament before losing to Guilford for the third straight year.
“I think our kids are going to be fired up,” Griffin said. “We responded well every time this year that we lost. It’s something that we’re not used to. They have another chance to play together and that’s going to fire them up.”
EMU was 15-1 in conference play this season. They went 1-2 against teams in this year’s field, with losses at York and Ferrum and a win over ODAC tournament champion Randolph-Macon.
This is the third-ever trip to the NCAA tournament for EMU. The Royals made the tournament in 2004 under former coach Richard McElwee and last year with Griffin, a loss to Marymount in Norfolk.
“We learned from it,” Griffin said. “Let’s go and not just be excited to be there. Let’s do something. Hopefully the newness and hype that surrounded it will have fallen by the wayside and we can just play basketball.”