BRIDGEWATER, Va. - A 22-point deficit early in the second half proved to be too much for Bridgewater College to overcome as the Eagles dropped a 69-60 decision Tuesdsay night at Hampden-Sydney in the opening round of the ODAC men's basketball tournament.
Just three days after losing in Fleet Gymnasium 76-34, the Eagles were on the road for a rematch with the Tigers.
Tuesday's contest did not start well for the Eagles as Hampden-Sydney jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first five minutes of play.
Bridgewater then steadied its level of play and stayed in contention for the remainder of the first half. Twice, the Tigers pushed the lead to 13 points, but each time the Eagles were able to work the deficit back to single digits. At the half, the Tigers led by 10 points, 33-23.
After the break, the Eagles once again started slowly as the Hampden-Sydney increased its lead to 20 points, 47-27, with 14 minutes left in the game. Another bucket by the Tigers, this one a jumper by Gray Cheers gave the hosts their biggest lead of the night, 49-27, with 13:48 remaining.
Bridgewater then started chipping away at the deficit and six minutes later, the margin was down to seven.
A 9-0 Bridgewater run sliced the 22-point deficit down to 13. Kevin Saylor started things with a 3-pointer and Efe Balfour followed with an inside bucket. Jesse Case then knocked down a 3-ball while being fouled, pulling the Eagles to within 49-35. Case missed the foul shot but the rebound went out of bounds with possession going Bridgewater's way. Case was fouled again and made 1-of-2 at the line, making it 49-36.
Bridgewater inched closer when Balfour worked he paint and converted a three-point play, cutting the Tigers lead to 52-41. JaVonte Reddick missed from 3-point range for the Tigers before Saylor cashed in from beyond the arc to pull the Eagles to within eight points. The Tigers' Mitch Owens countered with a jumper, but Case hit from 3-point range to get the Eagles to within seven, 54-47. with 7:56 to go.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Cheers and Mike Murray gave the Tigers a 63-49 lead with 4:30 on the clock, but the Eagles still had one run left.
Case hit a 3-pointer, but Cheers answered with a jumper to put the Tigers up by 13, 65-52, with 2:33 remaining.
Both teams went more than two minutes without scoring until Eagles point guard Romello Crowell scored on a jumper while being fouled with 1:01 left in the game, making the score 65-54. Crowell missed the foul shot, but Case controlled the offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to Logan Seacrist for a 3-pointer that cut the margin down to eight.
The Eagles fouled Murray and the Tigers' point guard missed the front end of the one-and-one. Keonte Dennis controlled the rebound and Case pushed the ball into the offensive zone where he found Seacrist open for another 3-pointer to trim the Hampden-Sydney lead to five, 65-60, with 44 seconds remaining.
The Eagles fouled Murray again and this time he hit both free throws to make it 67-60 with 41 ticks left. Saylor missed a 3-pointer for the Eagles and Murray made two more foul shots to clinch the 69-60 victory for the Tigers.
Three freshmen combined to score 48 of Bridgewater's 60 points. Balfour led the way, making 7-of-11 shots on the way to a game-high 20 points. Case hit 5-of-9 from 3-point range and scored 17 points while Saylor added 11.
Murray paced the Tigers with 14 points and Owens scored 10.
Hampden-Sydney won the battle on the glass by a 34-27 margin. Murray led the Tigers from his guard spot with six rebounds while Saylor pulled down six rebounds for the Eagles.
The Eagles, who started four freshmen in Tuesday night's contest, finish the 2015-16 season with 7-18 record.