BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Bridgewater College outscored Averett 47-27 in the second half Saturday afternoon to pull away for an 87-63 victory in non-conference men's basketball action.
With the victory, the Eagles improved to 5-2 overall on the season while the Cougars dropped to 2-4.
"I was really pleased with the defensive intensity we brought to the game," Eagles head coach Don Burgess said. "Averett is a very athletic team and we knew we would have a tough time guarding them individually, but collectively we did a really good job."
The teams traded points early in the first half until the Cougars opened up a six-point lead with a 7-2 spurt. Bradley Robinson started the Averett run with a 3-pointer to put the Cougars on top 21-17. Ed Reddick answered with a layup for the Eagles before a 4-point play by Justin Pierce gave Averett a 25-19 lead with 9:24 left in the first half.
Averett maintained the upper hand until Bridgewater took the lead with a 9-0 run. A jumper by Reddick and two foul shots by Tavis Stapleton shave a five-point Averett lead down to one, 28-27. A layup by Aaron Adams put the Eagles on top with 4:33 left in the first half and a 3-pointer by Stapleton gave the Eagles a 32-28 lead.
Two foul shots by Averett's Marquis Scott tied the score at 34-34, but the Eagles closed the half with a 6-2 run to take a 40-36 halftime lead.
The second half was dominated by the Eagles.
Bridgewater opened the half with a 9-3 run to push the lead to double digits for the first time. Averett cut the margin to three, 42-39, early in the half on a 3-pointer by Robinson, but a reverse layup by Larson and a 3-pointer from the left corner by Zach Hunter put the Eagles on top 47-39. Larson scored again from down low to make it 49-39 with 14:17 left in the game.
"The group that started the second half didn't get off to a very good start so went to our bench early and the second group came in with a lot of effort and energy and helped us expand on the lead," Burgess said.
The lead hovered around the 10-point mark until Bridgewater put the Cougars away with a 13-0 run to push the lead up to 24 points. After a free throw by Averett's Scott made it 64-53, Kenneth Waugh scored on a driving layup to ignite the Bridgewater offense. Larson then made a layup and added two free throws to expand the margin to 17 points, 70-53, with 6:33 left in the game.
Following an Averett turnover, Stapleton drove the baseline and threw down a two-handed dunk while being fouled. He tacked on the free throw and the Eagles lead was 20, 73-53. Layups by Waugh and Reddick capped the outburst and put Bridgewater on top 77-53 with 4:16 left.
The Eagles put three players in double figures, led by Thomas' 22 points. Stapleton finished with 16 points and Reddick scored 12. Thomas also added three assists and did not commit a turnover in 30 minutes of play. Stapleton added four steals and Reddick blocked five shots.
"Ronnie was solid again and Tavis and Ed played well," Burgess said. "(Daniel) McClain and Larson played with a lot of energy and effort and gave us good production inside." The McClain-Larson duo combined for 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Bridgewater hit 45.9 percent from the field, including 54.2 percent in the second half. The Eagles also were solid from beyond the arc, making 7-of-16, and stellar from the foul line where they knocked down 24-of-28 attempts.
On the boards, the Eagles battled Averett's athletic frontcourt to a near standoff as the Cougars held a slim 44-42 edge. Daniel McClain and Reddick each pulled down seven rebounds.
"Coming into the game, two of our main goals were rebounding and taking care of the basketball," said Burgess. "We battled on the boards and finished minus-2 but we had 17 assists and just 13 turnovers for the game."
The Eagles' defense was also solid, holding the Cougars to just 30.4 percent shooting for the game. Pierce, who entered the contest averaging 20 points per game, finished with 16 and Bradley Robinson added 14. Scott, who entered the game averaging 15 points and 9.8 rebounds, was limited to seven points and seven boards. Scott made just 1-of-10 shots from the floor.
The Eagles return to action next weekend when they host the Don Glick Classic. Action begins Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. when Eastern Mennonite plays Wesley College. Friday's second game features Bridgewater and Maryland Bible. The Classic concludes Saturday when EMU plays Maryland Bible at 2:00 p.m. followed by the Bridgewater-Wesley contest. Fans can receive free admission each day if they bring a canned food item to the contest. All proceeds from the canned food drive will benefit the Bridgewater Inter-Church Food Pantry.