HAMPDEN-SYDNEY, Va. – Bridgewater College won the weekend at the Luck Stone Holiday Classic hosted by Hampden-Sydney College with a 92-71 victory Sunday afternoon over Buffalo State. The Eagles were the only team in the four-team classic to go 2-0.
One day after going 1-for-13 from the floor and scoring just three points, AJ Horde torched the Bengals with 39 points to earn MVP honors. Sami El-Rafey and Dimetri Chanbers joined Horde on the all-classic team. El-Rafey just missed a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds against the Bengals. Chambers, who led the Eagles with 22 points in Saturday's win over Johnson & Wales, scored six points in Sunday's game before leaving early in the second half with an ankle injury.
"With AJ, it's more than just the scoring," said Eagles' head coach Shawn Postiglione. "Saturday he only scored three points, but he had nine rebounds and nine assists. Today, he had the ball in his hands most of the time in the second half and he had five assists and no turnovers. It's those things, in addition to his scoring, that make us a better team."
With the win Sunday, the Eagles improve to 6-4 heading to the Christmas break. "Winning the tournament is a good step for our program, but it's how we won these two games that I'm most pleased with. We beat two good basketball teams. Those two teams are going to be there at the end of the season in their conferences," said Postiglione.
The Eagles got off to a quick start, opening up a 10-point lead midway through the first half. Horde took the opening tip and drove in for a layup and Josh Cammon scored on a layup to give the Eagles a quick 4-0 lead. After a layup by Bengals' forward Mike Henry, Monte Simpkins and Horde knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers for a 10-2 Bridgewater lead.
Buffalo State scored the next six points to pull within two before Horde scored after grabbing an offensive rebound to put the Eagles up 12-8. Chambers then buried consecutive 3-pointers for an 18-8 Bridgewater lead with 10:33 left in the half.
The Eagles then went more than three minutes without scoring and the Bengals reeled off 11 unanswered points to taje a 19-18 lead. The Eagles regained the upper hand on a 3-pointer by Horde and another 3-pointer by Horde gave Bridgewater its final lead of the first half at 25-22. The Bengals then outscored the Eagles 14-5 to take their largest lead of the half at 36-30 and, at the break Buffalo State led 38-33.
"We had a pretty honest conversation at halftime about how we played the final 10 minutes," said Postiglione. "The guys responded and we probably played our most complete half of basketball in that second half. "
The Bengals stretched their lead to nine to start the second half, but Horde heated up with three buckets from 3-point range as the Eagles closed to within three, 45-42.
Trailing 49-46, the Eagles put together a 16-4 run to take the lead for good. Bridgewater pulled even at 49-49 on a three-point play by El-Rafey and a 3-pointer by Horde put the Eagles up by one, 52-51. A layup by Ken Stanciel and a tip-in by El-Rafey pushed the margin to 56-51 before Henry hit two foul shots to pull the Bengals to within three, 56-53. El-Rafey scored again from in close and Horde added two free throws and a 15-footer for a 62-53 Bridgewater lead with 10:57 left to play.
The Bengals cut the deficit to five, 66-61, with 7:54 left, but a 10-0 run over the next 2:30 put the Eagles on top by 15. Zach Breathwaite ignited the run with a three-point play inside and Chandler Murray scored from long range, making the score 72-61. Murray added a floater in the lane and Simpkins scored on a layup to push the lead to 76-61 with just 5:24 left.
Bridgewater's bench provided a huge lift against the Bengals. Led by El-Rafey's performance, the Bridgewater reserves combined for 36 points and 20 rebounds.
Bridgewater shot 47.5 percent from the floor, making 29-of-61 shots. The Eagles were hot from long range, making 11-of-24 3-pointers.
The Eagles also owned the boards, outrebounding Buffalo State, 43-29. Cammon paced the Eagles with 10 rebounds.
Bridgewater takes a break for the Christmas holiday and then returns to the court on Dec. 30 when the Eagles host Ferrum College in a non-conference contest.