BRIDGEWATER – Bridgewater College opened up a 12-point cushion in the first quarter Wednesday evening in Nininger Hall and the Eagles led the rest of the way in a 77-68 victory over rival Eastern Mennonite.
Jess Washington made two foul shots at the 6:53 mark of the first quarter to put the Royals on top 5-4. That would be the last lead of the night for the visitors as the Eagles outscored EMU 18-8 during the remainder of the quarter to lead 22-13.
A driving layup by guard Madison Baum put the Eagles ahead 6-5 and an inside bucket by Rebecca Harvey gave the Eagles an 8-5 lead. Harvey scored again in the post to make it 10-5 before Brianna Zook came off the bench and scored in the paint for the Royals, cutting the Eagles' lead to 10-7.
Jessalyn Monday answered Zook's bucket with a 3-pointer and Sydni Carey added a 12-footer for a 15-7 Bridgewater lead. Monday then stepped out and knocked down another 3-pointer to push the lead to double digits for the first time, 18-7.
Zook hit a pair of free throws for the Royals, but Harvey cancelled those out with two foul shots for the Eagles. After Washington hit 1-of-2 foul shots, Nina Novosel scored on a baseline jumper for a 22-10 Bridgewater lead. Lindsey Krisak hit a 3-pointer, her first of six in the game, to pull the Royals to within 22-13 at the end of the opening quarter.
Moore opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer and Harvey made two foul shots as Bridgewater's lead grew to 27-13. A layup by Novosel gave Bridgewater its biggest lead of the half, 29-14.
The Royals then ran off 10 straight points to pull to within five, 29-24 with 1:59 left in the half as the Eagles' offense went more than seven minutes without scoring a point.
Ahlia Moone snapped the long dry spell with two free throws and Harvey scored on a layup to push the lead back to nine with just more than a minute remaining in the half. Myneshia Walker made 1-of-2 at the line for EMU before a jumper by Sydni Carey increased the margin back to double figures, 37-27, at halftime.
Monday put the Eagles ahead by 13 points with a 3-pointer to open the third quarter and when Baum hit a 15-footer with 2:31 left on the clock, the Eagles' lead was still in double digits, 51-41.
EMU outscored the Eagles 7-2 during the remainder of the third period and for a moment, pulled to within three points. Zook powered inside for a bucket and Krisak tallied from long range, cutting the margin to 51-46. Precious Waddy added a layup with 1:08 left on the clock to make it a three-point game, 51-48. Moore stopped the Royals' momentum when she weaved her way through the lane and scored on a layup with 17 seconds left for a 53-48 Eagles' lead.
The teams traded points early in the final quarter before Moore drained a long 3-pointer and Carey added a 15-footer to put the Eagles up 60-52. Zook and Washington sandwiched buckets in the paint around a jumper by Monday as the Eagles stayed up by six, 62-56, with 6:33 left. A minute later, Moone hit a huge 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 65-56 lead.
The Royals continued to battle and the visitors trimmed the deficit to four, 69-65, on two free throws by Zook with 2:15 left.
Moone drove past her defender to score on a layup and a layup by Moore with 53 seconds left put the Eagles up 73-65, A 3-pointer by Krisak drew EMU to within five, but Moore hit two free throws with 27 seconds to go and, following a Krisak miss from long range, Baum added two more foul shots for the final margin.
Bridgewater put six players in double figures, led by Moore with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The double-double was her second in a row and her third in the past four games. Baum just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine assists. Baum ranks first in assists among the nation's freshmen, averaging 5.5 per game. Harvey also scored 12 points, followed by Monday and Moone with 11 points each and Carey with 10.
Zook came off the bench to pace Royals with 20 points and 10 boards. Krisak hit 6-of-9 shots from 3-point range and finished with 18 points.
In the earlier meeting between the teams in Harrisonburg, a 72-67 EMU victory, the Royals dominated the Eagles on the boards by a 50-35 margin. Wednesday, the Eagles held their own on the glass as the Royals owned a slim 39-35 rebounding edge.
The Eagles are now 11-12 overall and 7-8 in the ODAC. Bridgewater will try to reach the .500 mark Saturday when they travel to Lynchburg to close out the regular season with a game at Randolph College. A Bridgewater win, coupled with a Shenandoah loss at Washington and Lee, would give the Eagles a home game in the opening round of the ODAC tournament which starts on Monday night.