BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Junior Tavis Stapleton and freshman Zach Hunter sparked a late 10-0 run Saturday afternoon to lift the Bridgewater College Eagles to a 78-75 victory over Guilford College on the final day of conference regular season action.
With the victory, the Eagles improved to 14-11 overall and an even 8-8 in ODAC play. The win also secured a first-round home game in the conference tournament Tuesday night. Tournament pairings will be announced later this evening.
The victory also assured that the Eagles will finish with a winning record – the first winning season since the 2008-09 season.
The Quakers, who were playing without leading scorer Josh Pittman, finish the regular season with a 17-8 overall record and a 9-7 conference mark. Pittman was sidelined for Saturday's contest with the flu.
Bryan Lynch, the Eagles lone senior, got the start on senior day and made the most of his starting opportunity. Lynch hit his first three shots, all from 3-point range, to put the Eagles on top 9-0.
After Matt McCarthy put the Quakers on the board with a free throw, Daniel McClain scored from down low for an 11-1 Bridgewater lead. McCarthy then made the first of his seven 3-pointers, but Matthew Hunter answered with a 3-ball for the Eagles, making the score 14-4. After the Quakers missed two shots from the lane on their next possession, Ed Reddick drove to hole for a layup and a 16-4 Eagles lead with 13:03 left in the half.
The Quakers started the contest making just one of their first 17 shots. Will Freeman made the Quakers second field goal at the 10:52 mark, but McClain knocked down a 15-footer for the Eagles to keep the lead at 10 points, 18-8.
Guilford finally started to find the range at the offensive end and a 7-0 spurt cut the lead to three, 18-15.
After a jumper by Guilford's Drew Combs cut the lead to three at 22-19, the Eagles scored seven straight to regain a 10-point advantage. Ronnie Thomas started the run with a layup following an offensive rebound and Stapleton added a layup and a 3-pointer for a 29-19 lead with 4:12 left in the half.
Guilford once again had a response. This time a 10-2 run capped by two free throws from Jake Hopkins trimmed the Bridgewater lead to two, 31-29, with 1:05 on the clock. Ed Reddick converted a three-point play with 31 seconds left in the half to send the Eagles to the locker room with a 34-29 lead.
The second half turned into a shootout with Guilford's McCarthy and BC's Stapleton in starring roles.
Guilford scored the first six points of the second half to take its first lead of the game, but Reddick hit two free throws to put the Eagles back on top 36-35. After a free throw by Guilford's Travis Tracy tied the score, Reddick hit two more foul shots and a layup, giving the Eagles a 40-36 lead.
The Eagles maintained the lead until a 3-pointer by McCarthy tied the score at 59-59 with 7:19 to play. McCarthy hit another 3-pointer for a 62-61 Guilford lead, but Stapleton answered with a trey of his own, putting the Eagles on top 64-62 with 6:18 left.
Two foul shots by McCarthy tied the score before a short jumper from Reddick gave the Eagles a 66-64 edge. McCarthy hit again from bonus range and teammate Will Freeman scored on a short jumper, giving the Quakers a 69-66 lead with 4:34 to play.
Stapleton then knocked down a 3-pointer that tied the score at 69-69 and started the Eagles' pivotal 10-0 run.
After Tracy missed from beyond the arc, Zach Hunter hit an open 3-pointer for a 72-69 BC lead with 2:27 remaining. McCarthy misfired from 3-point range on Guilford's next possession and Stapleton followed with a 15-footer to put the Eagles on top by five. Freeman then missed a short jumper and Zach Hunter calmly sank both ends of a one-and-one for a 76-69 lead with 50 seconds left.
Guilford, however, was far from finished. McCarthy drained a long 3-pointer to cut the margin to four, but Reddick took his turn at the line and converted both ends of the bonus situation, making the score 78-72 with 37 seconds left. The Eagles did a solid job of denying McCarthy on the next trip but Jarred Hinton connected from beyond the arc to cut the Bridgewater lead to three with 28 ticks left.
Guilford had one last opportunity to tie when Zach Hunter missed the front end of a one-and-one with 25 seconds left. The Eagles defense once again was solid and Tracy's forced 3-pointer with seven seconds left came up short. Reddick secured the rebound and the Eagles ran off the final seconds to finish off the 78-75 victory.
The Eagles made 50.9 percent of its shots, including 47.8 percent from 3-point range. Bridgewater made a season high 11 shots from beyond the arc. The Eagles were also solid at the foul line where they made 11-of-13 shots.
Guilford overcame its ice-cold start to shoot 42.4 percent from the floor. The Quakers matched the Eagles from 3-point range with their 11-of-23 effort.
McCarthy hit 10-of-17 shots, including 7-of-13 from 3-point range to finish with a game-high 30 points. Freeman was the only other Guilford player in double figures as he scored 11.
Stapleton scored a career-high 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting. The 6-4 guard hit 4-of-8 shots from 3-point land. Reddick added plenty of support with 19 points and seven rebounds. McClain also pulled down seven boards to lead the Eagles to a slim 33-32 rebounding edge. Jake Hopkins paced the Quakers on the glass with a game-high 10 rebounds.