HARRISONBURG, Va. – Bridgewater College snapped its five-game losing streak and improved to 2-1 in the ODAC as the Eagles slipped past rival Eastern Mennonite 84-82 in overtime Wednesday evening at Yoder Arena.
Bridgewater (3-8, 2-1 ODAC) held the lead early when a 3-pointer by Jesse Case gave the team a 14-13 lead with 12:41 left in the first half.
Eastern Mennonite (6-5, 1-2 ODAC) scored the next five points on a 3-pointer by Travis Clower and a layup by Xavier McCants to lead 18-14 and the Royals maintained the advantage for the remainder of the half.
The Royals took their biggest lead of the half, 25-17, when Khalil Davis connected on two free throws at the 9:06 mark. Brandon Walters came off the bench and knocked down a 3-pointer and Logan Seacrist followed with a 3-ball to pull the Eagles to within two, with 7:13 remaining.
The Royals' lead fluctuated between three and seven points during the final seven minutes of the half. A layup by Davis put the Royals on top 38-31 with 2:46 left, but the Eagles whittled the margin down to three on two foul shots by Case with 50 seconds left. Clower then knocked down another 3-pointer to send the Royals to the break with a 41-35 advantage.
EMU managed to maintain the lead for the first 11 minutes of the second half, but two free throws by Maalik Howard pulled the Eagles even at 56-56 with 8:55 remaining in the game.
Clower and Case then traded hoops before a layup by Kevin Saylor gave Bridgewater its first lead of the second half, 60-58, with 6:56 to play.
The Royals tied the score with two foul shots, but a layup by Romello Crowell and two free throws by Seacrist put the Eagles up 64-60 with 5:50 to go.
Maleke Jones hit a 15-footer for the Royals, but Efe Balfour made a pair of foul shots to keep the Eagles lead at four. The Royals then turned the ball over and Saylor drove to the hole for a layup, giving Bridgewater a 68-62 lead with 4:09 left.
The Royals then hit the Eagles with a 10-0 run to regain the lead. Isaiah Harris-Winn capped the flurry with a 3-pointer to give the hosts a 72-68 lead with just 1:53 remaining. Balfour hit 1-of-2 at the line to cut the deficit to three and, after Harris-Winn missed two foul shots, Seacrist scored after grabbing an offensive rebound to pull Bridgewater to within a single point, 72-71, with 54 seconds still to play.
EMU's RaShawn Latimer missed a driving layup on the next possession and Balfour controlled the boards for the Eagles. Saylor then took a dish from Case and converted from in close to put the Eagles ahead 73-72 with 25 seconds left.
EMU's Tariq Caldwell was fouled on his drive to the basket with seven seconds left and he hit his first free throw to tie the score. Caldwell missed the second free throw, but the Eagles were unable to control the rebound and the ball went out of bounds with possession going to EMU. Jerome Jones got a decent look at a long 3-pointer, but his shot bounced high off the rim at the buzzer and the rivals headed to overtime tied at 73-73.
Latimer put the Royals ahead with two foul shots to start the extra session, but Norman Barnes scored after grabbing an offensive rebound and Case added a pair of free throws for a 77-75 Bridgewater lead.
After a Royals' turnover, Balfour was fouled and the Eagles' big man hit both free throws to make it 79-75. EMU's Davis missed from long range on the next possession and Saylor grabbed the rebound for the Eagles. Howard drove the lane at the offensive end and converted a layup, giving Bridgewater an 81-75 lead with 2:44 remaining in OT.
The Royals would not go away as a jumper by Latimer trimmed the margin to four. Case hit 1-of-2 foul shots to put the Eagles up by five, but another bucket by Latimer cut the margin down to three, 82-79, with 1:25 left.
The teams traded empty possessions before Balfour was fouled with 21 seconds left. He made the second of two free throws, giving BC a four-point lead, 83-79.
The Royals pushed the ball to the offensve end and Jerome Jones connected on a deep 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to make it a one-point game, 83-82.
Bridgewater got the ball into Case's hands and the freshman guard was fouled with eight seconds left. Case made the first, but missed the second free throw, leaving the Eagles with a two-point, 84-82, lead.
The Royals had the ball with a chance to tie or win, but Jerome Jones' contested 3-pointer was off the mark and Balfour controlled the rebound to secure the Eagles two-point victory.
Bridgewater held its own on the glass in the first half, losing the rebounding battle, 17-16, but the Eagles dominated the boards 40-18 in the final 20 minutes en route to its victory. Twelve of Bridgewater's rebounds in the second half came on the offensive boards. Seacrist led the effort with 11 rebounds. Balfour grabbed nine boards, followed by Cameron Thurston with eight and Saylor with seven.
A trio of Bridgewater freshmen – Case, Balfour, and Saylor – led the Eagles in scoring as the three combined for 45 points. Case led the way with 17 points while Balfour added 16 and Saylor contributed 12.
EMU also displayed balanced scoring with four players in double figures. Maleke Jones led the way with 15 points while Jerome Jones and Latimer each scored 14. Harris-Winn chipped in with 13 points and led the Royals on the boards with six rebounds.
The Royals were on fire from long range in the opening half, connecting on 8-of-15 3-point shots, but in the second half and overtime EMU made just 6-of-23 shots from beyond the arc.
Bridgewater returns to action Saturday afternoon when the Eagles host Emory & Henry in another early-season ODAC matchup. The game will tip off at 2:00 p.m.