BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Bridgewater College jumped out to an 18-point halftime lead and then held off a second-half surge to defeat The College of New Jersey, 78-68, in non-conference men's basketball action.
The win was the third straight for Bridgewater, now 3-1, while the Lions drop to 0-2 on the season.
The Eagles dominated play in the opening half at both ends of the court as head coach Don Burgess played 18 players in the first half. Bridgewater shot just under 50 percent from the floor (19-for-40) while limiting the Lions to 41.7 percent. The Eagles forced 16 turnovers and controlled the boards by a 25-15 margin.
Tavis Stapleton scored the first points of the game on a 3-pointer and the Eagles never trailed.
Buckets by Jayson Johnson and Skyelar Ettin pulled the Lions to within five, 15-10, before an 8-0 run carried the Eagles to a double-digit lead. Reddick and Aaron Adams made layups and David Larson threw down a two-handed dunk to put the Eagles on top 21-10. Reddick capped the 8-0 spurt with another tip-in, giving the Eagles a 23-10 lead with 10:42 left in the half.
After a layup by the Lions' Alex Fox, the Eagles scored seven unanswered points to push the lead to 18. Reddick scored for the third time after controlling an offensive rebound and Benaiah Wise added a layup, making the score 27-12. Kyle VanOrden scored the next three points for a 30-12 Bridgewater lead with 6:03 left in the half.
The Lions cut the deficit to 14 points before a 9-0 spurt gave the Eagles their biggest lead of the half. Bridgewater was able to get out in transition and three layups by Matthew Hunter, Kordero Thompson and Ronnie Thomas made the score 38-18. Sammy Tyson then drained a 3-pointer from the left wing, giving the Eagles a 41-18 lead with 1:54 left in the half.
The Lions then scored seven straight points before a jumper by Thompson sent the Eagles to the locker room with a 43-25 lead at the break.
"The first half, our defensive intensity from our starters to our subs was outstanding," Burgess said. "That's when we are at our best. We were able to create turnovers and those turnovers led to some easy baskets in transition."
The Eagles opened the second half with the first six points to take their biggest lead of the game. Ronnie Thomas hit two foul shots and Daniel McClain added a pair of foul shots and a jump hook from in close to put Bridgewater on top 49-25.
A three-minute dry spell by the Eagles allowed the Lions to work their way back into contention as an 11-0 run cut the Bridgewater lead to 13 points, 49-36.
Bridgewater managed to keep the lead between 11 and 15 points until a 7-0 spurt by the Lions cut the Eagles lead to 67-60 with 4:47 remaining. After Matt Hunter hit 1-of-2 foul shots, Johnson drove the lane for a layup to pull the Lions to within six, 68-62.
That would be as close at the Lions could get as the Eagles hit 5-of-6 foul shots to keep the lead at eight. After a turnover by the Lions' Johnson, Thomas drove the baseline for a layup to push the margin back to double figures, 75-65, with 1:51 left in the game.
TCNJ trimmed the Bridgewater lead back to single digits, but the Eagles converted 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch to pull away to a 78-68 victory.
"The College of New Jersey came out very aggressive in the second half and we did not match that intensity," said Burgess. "But our guys were able to weather their comeback and pick up a very good win on our home court."
Reddick led the Eagles with 13 points as 15 different players cracked the scoring column for the Eagles. Thomas, Stapleton, Adams and Waugh each finished with seven points. Thomas paced the Eagles to a 44-36 advantage on the boards with seven rebounds. Thomas also added five assists.
Ettin led the Lions with 22 points and Matthew Rista added 17.
"We had some solid contributions from a lot of different players," Burgess added. "I thought Kordero Thompson came up with some big defensive plays down the stretch when they were cutting into the lead. Kord's a blue-collar guy. He takes pride in his rebounding and defense. He left some skin on the floor and came up with a couple of loose balls that helped us get a couple key stops."
The Eagles are back in action Wednesday evening when they open conference play by hosting Randolph College. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.