HARRISONBURG, Va. - Eastern Mennonite took control in the final seven minutes Tuesday night to turn back the Bridgewater College Eagles, 79-65, in the opening round of the ODAC men's basketball tournament.
The Royals threatened to blow the Eagles out of Yoder Arena in the first five minutes as they raced to a 15-0 lead.
The Eagles turned the ball over six times and R.J. Sims scored the game's first eight points on a layup and a pair of 3-pointers for an 8-0 EMU lead. Andrew Thorne capped the outburst with five straight points to give the Royals a 15-0 lead with 16:35 left in the first half.
Ed Reddick hit two free throws to put the Eagles on the board and Kenneth Waugh knocked down a 3-pointer for the Eagles first field goal. David Falk answered Waugh's trey with a layup to give the Royals a 19-6 lead with 14:44 on the clock.
A free throw by Owen Longacre put the margin back to 15 points, 26-11, but the Eagles then went on a 17-2 run to tie the score.
After James Williams hit a jumper for EMU, Bridgewater scored the next 11 points to pull even.
Reddick ignited the run with a layup and Adams added a breakaway dunk following a steal to trim the deficit to seven, 28-21. Kyle Van Orden worked free for a layup and Waugh added two free throws to make it a three-point game. Waugh then hit another lone 3-pointer to tie the score at 28-28 with 5:28 left in the half.
The Eagles pulled even again at 32-32 on a layup by Hunter, but a tip-in by Falk gave the Royals a 34-42 lead.
Bridgewater completed its long comeback when Hunter hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Eagles to the locker room with a 35-34 lead.
EMU opened up a five-point lead early in the second half, but the Royals could not shake free from the Eagles until the final seven minutes of action.
The Eagles trailed by just three, 50-47, when Ronnie Thomas connected on a runner from 10 feet out with 9:27 left. EMU then hit the Eagles with a 12-4 run to push the lead to double figures, 62-51, for the first time in the second half.
A layup by Adam Burroughs gave EMU a 15-point lead with 4:55 left, but the Eagles made one final run at the Royals.
Kyle Welty hit a pair of three throws and Adams worked the baseline and converted a three-point play to cut the margin to 10, 69-59, with 3:59 left.
The Eagles, however, would get no closer as the Royals closed out the 79-65 victory.
The Eagles, who were plagued by injuries throughout the year, watched three more players go down Tuesday night. Reddick went down with an ankle injury in the first half and was hobbled the rest of the game. Tavis Stapleton started, but played just one minute while Hunter played just six minutes in the second half before being sidelined.
"This team had to show a lot of resiliency this season due to all the injuries we had, and they showed that again tonight," Bridgewater head coach Don Burgess said. "They got down 15-0, but they fought back and took the lead at the half. I'm disappointed with the loss, but I'm proud of how hard the guys fought, not just tonight, but all season long."
Adams led the Eagles with 13 points and Thomas added 12. Reddick finished with 11 points despite being limited to just 21 minutes due to a sprained ankle in the first half and foul trouble in the second half.
Thorne led the Royals with 24 points and Sims added 22. Guard Dajon Daniel secured 12 rebounds to lead EMU to a huge 47-30 advantage on the glass.
With the loss, the Eagles end the season with a 7-19 record.