HARRISONBURG, Va. – Bridgewater College overcame a frigid, first-half shooting performance Friday evening to defeat Mount Aloysius, 63-53, in the first game of the Eastern Mennonite University Tip-Off Classic at Yoder Arena.
The Eagles could not find their shooting touch in the first 20 minutes. Bridgewater's first field goal came at the 10:36 mark when Jimmie Sanders drove the lane for a layup, cutting the Mounties' lead to 10-4. The Eagles made just four field goals in the first half on 17 percent shooting. From 3-point range, Bridgewater made just 1-of-13 attempts. Despite the shooting woes, the Eagles trailed by just one point, 19-18 at the break.
The second half was a different story as the Eagles scored 45 points on 53.3 percent shooting. It wasn't until the final six minutes, however, that the Eagles put the game away.
With 5:36 remaining, Sanders pulled the Eagles even at 43-43, with a short jumper. After a defensive stop, freshman Liam Caswell knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Eagles ahead, 46-43, with 4:43 left.
A jumper by Julian Stover trimmed the margin to four before Ken Stanciel came up with two big plays to put the Eagles up by eight. Stancel took a dish from Sanders and scored while being fouled to put the margin at six. Stanciel missed the free throw, but the rebound came off the front of the rim and back to Stanciel and the junior forward scored again, giving the Eagles a 55-47 lead with just 2:16 left.
Christian scored on a layup for the Mounties but Grier drove the right baseline and threw down a one-handed dunk to keep the lead at eight, 57-49, with 1:25 on the clock. After a missed 3-pointer by the Mounties, Grier added two foul shots, giving the Eagles a 10-point lead, 59-49, with 1:13 to play.
Sanders, Bridgewater's freshman point guard, poured in 21 points in his first college game. Sanders had three assists and just one turnover while playing all 40 minutes. Murray finished with 16 points, all in the second half. Murray was 0-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half, but hit 4-of-4 from beyond the arc in the second half. Caswell also reached double figures with 10 points. Grier finished with seven points and a team-high 10 rebounds while Stanciel added seven points and seven boards despite being limited to just 14 minutes due to foul trouble.
Backcourt mates Christian and Stover led the Mounties, each with 14 points.
The Eagles are back in action Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. against New Jersey City. The Gothic Knights, ranked No. 16 in the D3hoops.com Preseason Top 25, defeated Eastern Mennonite, 76-67, in Friday's second contest.