Eagles Set for Quarterfinal Showdown with Guilford
SALEM, Va. – There's an old sports adage that goes a little something like "It's hard to beat the same team three times in one season." That adage will be in play on Thursday night at the Salem Civic Center when the sixth-seeded Bridgewater Eagles women's basketball team takes on the third-seeded Quakers of Guilford College in the opening round of the ODAC Tournament.
During the regular season, Guilford upended Bridgewater in both games and owns a three-game winning streak against the Eagles that dates back to last season's conference tournament.
Last season, the Eagles hit the road to Salem as the number two seed after tying with Randolph-Macon for the regular season title. Guilford came into the tournament as the seventh-seeded team and was swept during the regular season by the Eagles as Bridgewater rolled up a record-tying 22-win regular season.
A week before the tournament, Bridgewater outscored Guilford by 22 points in the second half of a matchup in Nininger Hall to take the season series. Earlier in the season at Ragan Fieldhouse, Bridgewater opened the game on a 30-2 run before taking down a young Guilford team by 28 points on the road.
In Salem, the tides turned. With a trip to the semifinals on the line, Bridgewater came out flat, but still took a lead into the locker room. Midway through the second half, the Eagles owned a double-digit lead over the Quakers before Guilford stormed back to tie the game at 61 each with under three minutes to play.
The game remained tied at 65 with 1:30 to play, before a familiar heartbreaker by the name of Gabby Oglesby knocked in a layup with 27 ticks to play to put the Quakers ahead for good, ending Bridgewater's season.
Fast forward to the 2011-12 season and the January 13 matchup against the Quakers in Nininger Hall.
Again it was Bridgewater owning a double-digit lead over the Quakers in the second half and again Guilford erased the deficit but this time senior Jenny Logan came up with a game-tying jumper to force overtime.
In the extra set, Oglesby hit the game-winning jumper with 0.7 seconds to play handing the Quakers their second straight win over Bridgewater.
A week ago in Greensboro, the Quakers used a big end-of-the-game run to take down the Eagles by 21 points to earn the season sweep of Bridgewater, which will enter the tournament without the services of junior Jessica Mullen. In Friday evening's game, the Eagles shot a season-low 29.3 percent from the floor, more than 11 percentage points below their regular season average.
Two teams, two different seasons, but similarities abound in Thursday night's quarterfinal matchup in a game that, if history repeats itself, the Eagles should have a chance to win. At least according to that adage mentioned earlier.
Aside from Mullen, the Eagles are led offensively by senior Jenny Logan's 9.7 points per game. Logan is also dishing out 3.7 assists per game which ranks fifth in the conference.
Bridgewater's inside game has been alive as of late with the freshman duo of Kelsey Taylor and Shannan Thorne averaging 20 points and 13 rebounds in the six games without Mullen. Thorne has been outstanding as of late, tallying a double-double in three of the last five games, including her 18-point, 13-rebound effort in Saturday's victory at Emory & Henry. Her 7.8 rebounds per game are good enough for fifth in the conference.
Guilford is led offensively by Oglesby who is averaging 14.7 points per game, which ranks her fifth in the ODAC. Guard Jazlyn Gibbs is also averaging double figures at 13 points per game.
Entering Thursday's game, Bridgewater is ranked sixth in the conference in scoring average (62.4 ppg), while the Quakers are averaging 67 points per outing, good enough for fourth. On the defensive end, the two teams are nearly identical with the Quakers allowing opponents to average 58.2 points per game, good enough for third in the conference, while the Eagles are allowing opponents to net 58.4 points per game to come up right behind Guilford in fourth.
The conference tournament hasn't been kind to Bridgewater as of late, with the Eagles dropping their last two quarterfinal matchups.
Tip off from the Salem Civic Center is set for 8 p.m. on Thursday evening with the winner set to do battle with the victor of the Eastern Mennonite (#2) vs. Roanoke (#7) game on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.
Thursday night's game will be aired live on Fresh 96.1 FM in the Valley and will also be available with live video provided by the ODAC in partnership with NMTVSports.com.