BRIDGEWATER - Bridgewater College opened up a 10-point lead midway through the second half and the Eagles turned back several challenges down the stretch to defeat Randolph College 76-72, Wednesday evening in the ODAC opener for both squads.
The Eagles put together a balanced scoring attack with four players in double figures to improve to 2-3 overall on the season.
Bridgewater led by eight, 39-31, at the half and never trailed in the second half. The Eagles took their biggest lead with 10:51 left in the game when Chandler Murray knocked down a 3-pointer for a 58-48 Bridgewater lead. Sammy Hooper scored for the WildCats, but Murray answered with two foul shots to keep the margin at 10 points, 60-50, with 9:40 remaining.
Randolph then ran off eight straight points to pull within two. Chase Vanhorn started the run with a 3-pointer and Justin Dula added a short jumper, trimming the margin to 60-55. Vanhorn struck again from long range and WildCats trailed by just two, 60-58, with 7:51 to go.
Bridgewater responded with six straight points to push the margin up to eight. Miles Barrett made two free throws and, following a defensive stop, Zach Breathwaite powered inside for a layup to make it 64-58. Following a Randolph turnover, Josh Cammon knocked down a mid-range jumper to give the Eagles a 66-58 lead with 5:44 left.
The WildCats resfused to wilt and an 8-0 run pulled the visitors even with 3:46 on the clock. Layups by Dula and Elijah Ford cut the deficit in half and two foul shots by Reid Jacoby made it a two-point game. After Dimetri Chambers missed a 3-pointer for the Eagles, Dula took a pass from Reid and scored from in close to tie the score at 66-66.
A driving layup by Davrion Grier put the Eagles back on top and a steal and layup by Chambers gave Bridgewater a four-point lead. Another Eagles' steal, this one by Grier, led to a fastbreak opportunity for Chambers. The Bridgewater rookie was fouled on his way to the hoop and made 1-for-2 free throws for a 71-66 Bridgewater lead with just 2:14 left.
Reid then scored on an off-balance layup to pull Randolph within three and, following a missed 3-point try by Grier, Dula drove inside for a layup, making it a one-point game, 71-70, with 1:27 left.
Cammon missed a 3-point shot on the next possession, but AJ Horde chased down the long rebound, giving the Eagles a new 30 seconds on the shot clock. Cammon made the extra possession pay off when he played through contact and converted at the rim to make it 73-70, with 40 seconds left. Cammon missed the ensuing free throw and the WildCats had a chance to tie, but Colton Lee's 3-pointer bounced off the rim and went out of bounds with possession going to the Eagles with 35 seconds left.
Randolph fouled Horde with 21 ticks on the clock and the Eagles' guard sank both foul shots for a 75-70 lead. With seven seconds left, Dula worked inside for a layup and was fouled on the play. Trailing by three, Dula missed the free throw, but his teammate Ford grabbed the offesnive rebound. Hooper missed a runner in the lane and Breathwaite came up with the loose ball and was fouled with less than a second remaining. Breathwaite hit the second of two foul shots for the final 76-72 margin.
Cammon, playing In just his second game since sustaining an injury in the exhibtion contest against James Madison, led the Eagles with 16 points. Grier came off the bench to score 13 points while Chambers and Breathwaite scored 11 points each.
After struggling on the boards on Sunday in a loss to Marymount, the Eagles held their own on the glass against Randolph as the WildCats held a 36-35 edge. Sami El-Rafey grabbed six rebounds for the Eagles while Cammon and Monte Simpkins each pulled down five boards.
Dula paced the WildCats with 15 points and nine rebounds and Hooper finished the contest with 12 points. Randolph is now 0-5 on the season.
The Eagles also shot the ball well, finishing the game making 27-of-59 shots for 47.2 percent. The team also fared much better at the foul line following Sunday's 40 percent showing from the charity stripe against Marymount. The Eagles hit 13-of-17 free throws Wednesday for a solid 76.5 percent effort.
Bridgewater is back at home Saturday afternoon when the Eagles host Guilford College. Game time is 2:00 p.m.