BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Senior guard Jessica Mullen knocked in a layup with 7.7 seconds to play and converted a free throw attempt after the make to help propel the Bridgewater Eagles women's basketball team to a 61-59 victory over Virginia Wesleyan on Wednesday evening in Nininger Hall.
The win for the Eagles was their fifth in a row, marking their longest winning streak in two years.
Bridgewater (6-5, 4-1 ODAC) scored the first points of the game before the Marlins responded with seven unanswered points to build a 7-2 lead with 15:17 to play in the first.
With 13 and change to play in the first, senior Katelynn Hottinger knocked in a layup to bring the Eagles to within a point before making a free throw and another layup to put the Eagles back in front, this time by a 10-9 tally.
The Bridgewater run continued with layups from Mullen and sophomore Shannan Thorne to build the lead to 15-9 after Thorne converted the conventional three-point play with a bucket from the charity stripe with 11:39 left in the opening half.
Virginia Wesleyan (7-6, 3-2 ODAC) clawed back to within a single point off of a Brittany Glasco free throw to bring the score to 17-16 but the Eagles used another run to build the lead up to seven points, 28-21, off of a Holly Morgan trey with just under five minutes to play in the first stanza.
After the Morgan trey, the Marlins stymied the Eagles over the final four-plus minutes and scored the final five points of the half to draw the game to a 28-26 Bridgewater lead at the break.
Out of the intermission, the Marlins scored the first five points of the half off of a Nancy Kelly layup and a Rachael Miller trey to take the lead back at a 31-28 score less than a minute into the second half.
Back-to-back jumpers from Morgan put the Eagles back out in front before a Glasco jumper and a made free throw from Sarah Seipp knotted the game up at 34 points each.
Following a pair of Cassidy Burkholder free throws which gave Bridgewater the lead, Miller knocked down another trey to put the Marlins back out in front, 37-36, with 15:21 left in the contest.
Hottinger buried a jumper to give the Eagles the lead back before another Morgan trey extended the Bridgewater lead to four points at a 41-37 tally.
Bridgewater's lead held at a one-possession advantage until back-to-back Kelly layups tied the score up yet again at 45 points each with 8:34 to play in the contest.
Mullen knocked in a layup and freshman Jessi Strom buried a trey to build the Bridgewater advantage back to five points before a Glasco free throw and layup brought the Marlins back to within a score at a 50-48 tally with 5:16 remaining.
With 3:35 to play, Virginia Wesleyan freshman Cassie Conley knocked in a jumper to tie the game up at 54 apiece before she followed with a trey to put the Marlins ahead, 57-54, with 2:49 left.
Virginia Wesleyan held its lead to three points as the clock went under a minute to play, but the Eagles weren't finished. With 20 ticks left Thorne knocked in a layup to bring the Eagles to within a point, forcing Bridgewater to foul twice to put the Marlins on the line.
After a pair of Jessica Mullen fouls, Seipp headed to the line and missed the front end of a one-and-one and Morgan pulled down the board sending the Eagles back to the offensive end with a shot at the lead.
With 7.7 seconds left, Mullen diced through the lane and split a pair of defenders and dropped a layup off of the glass and into the hoop, and drew the foul to put Bridgewater up by a 60-59 tally.
Following a Virginia Wesleyan timeout, Mullen calmly sank her free throw to push the Eagles up 61-59.
Virginia Wesleyan had an opportunity at the end of the game, but couldn't find the bottom of the net as the Eagles moved above .500 on the year with a 61-59 victory.
Mullen dropped a game-high 19 points to lead the way for the Eagles and was joined by a 15-point effort from Morgan. Bridgewater shot 41.8% on the evening and converted 11-of-14 free throw attempts.
On the glass, Thorne pulled down a game-high 16 boards as the Eagles controlled the Marlins in the rebounding department by a 51-to-32 margin. Hottinger just missed the double-double with nine points and a dozen rebounds.
Glasco paced the Marlins with 17 points, while Miller chipped in nine in the loss. Katie Tassa paced the way for Virginia Wesleyan with seven rebounds.
Bridgewater is back in action on Saturday in Nininger Hall when Randolph comes to town. Saturday's matchup also marks Alumni Day for the Eagles as the returning alumnae will play a game in the morning and then will be honored at halftime of Bridgewater's matchup with the WildCats. Tip time on Saturday is set for 3 p.m.