WINCHESTER, Va. – Bridgewater College opened up a 19-point lead late in the first half and that proved to be more than enough as the Eagles defeated Shenandoah University, 70-61, Wednesday evening in ODAC men's basketball action.
The victory moved the Eagles above the .500 mark in conference play with a 7-6 record. Bridgewater is now 13-9 overall. Shenandoah remained winless in the ODAC at 0-13 and the Hornets are now 3-19 overall.
Bridgewater's Zach Hunter scored the first bucket of the game and the Eagles never trailed. The Hornets tied the score at 2-2 and 4-4 before a jumper by Daniel McClain and a 3-pointer by Kenneth Waugh put the Eagles on top 9-4.
The Eagles used an 8-0 spurt midway in the first half to push the lead to double figures for the first time. A jumper by Kyle VanOrden and a 3-point play by Zach Hunter made the score 20-11 with 8:57 left in the first half. Tavis Stapleton tacked on two foul shots for a 22-11 lead, but the Hornets scored the next six points on 3-pointers by Virgil Davis and Jared Carithers to trim the margin to 22-17.
Bridgewater outscored the Hornets 20-9 in the final seven minutes of the half to lead by 16 points at the break.
After the Carithers 3-pointer, Bridgewater score nine straight points. Stapleton hit a 3-pointer and two foul shots and McClain added a jumper, making the score 29-17. Kyle Welty capped the spurt with a layup to put the Eagles on top by 14 points, 31-17, with 4:34 remaining in the half.
Carithers converted a three-point play for the Hornets, but the Eagles responded with an 11-3 run to take their biggest lead of the half. Stapleton and McClain scored on layups before Shenandoah's Bryce Mitchell hit 1-of-2 at the foul line, making the score 35-21. McClain scored again from inside and Zach Hunter knocked down a jumper to put the Eagles up 39-21.. Mitchell netted two for the Hornets, but Romie Powell converted a three-point play with nine seconds left in the half, giving the Eagles a 19-point, 42-23 lead.
Mitchell then beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer for the Hornets, trimming the Eagles lead to 42-26 at the half.
The Eagles were unable to deliver the knockout punch in the second half as the Hornets hung around for the rest of the game.
After McClain hit a jumper to open the second half, the Hornets reeled off eight straight points to pull to within eight, 44-36, with 17:15 to play.
From that point the lead hovered between eight and 14 points until the Hornets cut the margin to six, 60-54, with 4:46 left on five straight points by Mitchell.
The Eagles answered with the next four points to lead by 10 with 3:01 remaining. A free throw by Shenandoah's Jimi Starks cut the margin to seven, 65-58, with 1:23 left, but the Eagles scored the next five points to put the game away.
McClain had a breakout night for the Eagles as the junior forward scored a career-high 17 points to go along with seven rebounds. Zach Hunter turned in a solid floor game with 10 points and five assists. Stapleton just missed a double-double as he finished with nine points and eight rebounds. The Eagles destroyed Shenandoah on the boards as they held a 57-32 rebounding advantage.
Mitchell paced the Hornets with 17 points and Carithers added 10.
After shooting 50 percent in the first 20 minutes, the Eagles hit just 6-of-23 shots in the second half for 26 percent. The Eagles got to the foul line 23 times in the second half and made 15. Shenandoah experienced a tough shooting night in all phases. The Hornets shot just 33.9 percent from the floor, including 8-of-30 from beyond the arc for 26.7 percent. Shenandoah also struggled at the charity stripe where the Hornets made just 11 of their 27 attempts.
The Eagles will stay on the road Saturday when they travel to Hampden-Sydney. The Tigers lead the ODAC with a 12-1 record. Hampden-Sydney is 20-2 overall and ranked No. 17 in the D3hoops.com Top 25.