BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Bridgewater College rode a solid shooting performance and balanced production from the starters to defeat Shenandoah University, 72-53, in the first round of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference women's basketball tournament Tuesday evening at Nininger Hall.
Bridgewater, now 13-12 on the season, advances to the tournament quarterfinals Friday afternoon at the Salem Civic Center where the Eagles will meet the top-seeded Eastern Mennonite Royals. Tip-off is set for 1:00 p.m.
The Eagles put all five players in double figures against the Hornets. Jessi Strom hit 6-of-10 shots, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, to pace the Eagles with 17 points. Oshene Kelly was 8-of-12 from the floor and finished with a double-double as she scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Heather Cantrell just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine boards while Cassidy Burkholder and Jessica Lam each contributed 11 points. Burkholder also dished out seven assists.
The Hornets finished their season with a 7-19 record. Holly Chittenden and Kirstyn Arcata led Shenandoah with 15 points each. Erin French just missed a double-double, finishing with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Arcata put the Hornets on the board first with a jumper but the Eagles scored the next six points to take the lead for good. The Eagles worked the ball inside where Oshene Kelly hit two buckets and Heather Cantrell added a layup for a 6-2 Bridgewater lead.
Two free throws by Shenandoah's Erin French pulled the Hornets to within two points, 15-13, with 11:33 left in the half, but the Eagles then hit the visitors with a 12-3 spurt to push the lead to double digits.
Lam knocked down a 3-pointer and Burkholder added a layup for a 20-13 lead. Ashley McGhee countered with a 3-ball for the Hornets before a jumper by Strom and a three-point play from Burkholder put the Eagles out front 25-16. Kelly then worked down low for a layup in traffic, giving Bridgewater a 27-16 edge with 7:59 remaining in the opening half.
Shenandoah trimmed the deficit down to five when Chittenden scored from the paint, but the Eagles reeled off an 11-4 run to lead by 12. Cantrell scored on a layup and two free throws, pushing the BC lead to 31-22. French knocked down a jumper for the Hornets, but a 3-pointer by Strom and another layup by Cantrell made the score 36-24 with 2:31 left in the half.
Chittenden and Kelly traded hoops to keep the margin at 12 points. Shenandoah then outscored the Eagles 5-0 in the final two minutes of the half to trail 38-31 at the break.
Shenandoah pulled to within five points six times early in the second half, but each time the Eagles responded with a bucket to keep the Hornets from moving closer.
A layup by Chittenden off an assist from Arcata sliced the Eagles lead to five, 51-46, with 13:26 left. That would be the final time the Hornets would be that close as Bridgewater scored the next nine points to take a 14-point lead.
A 15-footer by Cantrell and a 12-foot jumper from Jessalyn Monday ignited the Eagles' run. Burkholder swished a 15-footer and Strom nailed an open 3-pointer for a 60-46 Bridgewater lead at the 7:00 mark.
Shenandoah scratched to within 11 on a jumper by Breya Wallace, but another 9-0 Bridgewater spurt put the game away. Kelly started the run with a layup inside and Strom added two foul shots. Lam then made 3-of-4 from the line and Burkholder added two more free throws for a 70-50 Eagles lead with 2:10 remaining.
After shooting 51.6 percent in the opening half (16-for-31), the Eagles cooled off some in the second half and finished the game at 47.4 percent (27-for-57). Shenandoah made 48 percent of its first-half shots, but the Hornets went ice cold in the final 20 minutes, making just 7-of-29 shots (24.1 percent).
The Eagles controlled the boards by a 44-28 margin and committed a season-low 12 turnovers.