Eagles Look to Secure Opening Round Bye in Final Week of Regular Season
BRIDGEWATER, Va. – With just two games left between it and the conference tournament, the Bridgewater Eagles women's basketball team will be looking to secure an opening round bye for the conference tournament when play tips off in the final week of conference action.
Bridgewater will do battle with Eastern Mennonite on Tuesday night at 7p.m. in Nininger Hall before travelling to Roanoke on Saturday afternoon for the regular season finale.
To secure an opening round bye for the upcoming Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) tournament, Bridgewater needs to win at least one contest on the week. The Eagles could also pick up an opening round bye with a loss by Lynchburg or Virginia Wesleyan and a Bridgewater win.
Last week, the Eagles made it five in a row in league play with wins over Shenandoah and Randolph-Macon. Bridgewater was on fire from the floor at the end of the week, shooting at a 49.5% clip in two conference affairs.
The Bridgewater offense has gelled into a combination of scorers as the season has progressed, taking a portion of the scoring load off of the shoulders of senior Jessica Mullen. After Mullen led the Eagles in scoring in Monday evening's loss to Mary Washington, the Eagles had different players step up in a pair of conference wins. Junior Molly Shelley knocked in a career-high 17 points on Wednesday evening against Shenandoah, while junior Holly Morgan paced the Eagles' attack on Saturday with 17 points against the Yellow Jackets.
Mullen is ranked third in the league in scoring with a 16.7 average and remains the league leader in steals with 76.
Bridgewater opens the week at home against the team that handed the Eagles their last ODAC loss. The last conference loss for the Eagles came at the hands of Eastern Mennonite at Yoder Arena in January. Bridgewater overcame a slow start to take a lead into the locker room before enduring a 12-plus minute drought from the floor in the second half in a 57-48 loss to the conference-leading Royals.
Mullen led the way for the Bridgewater offense with a game-high 15 points, while freshman Jessi Strom added 11 in the loss. Sophomore Shannan Thorne pulled down a team-high 10 boards to pace the way for the Eagles on the glass. Eastern Mennonite was paced offensively by a 12-point effort from Keyla Baltimore while Shakeera Sykes pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds for the Royals.
Eastern Mennonite is paced on the offensive end by the play of Sykes. The sophomore is leading the offense with 10.2 points per game, while junior Bianca Ygarza adds 10 points per game.
Wednesday's game will air live on Fresh 96.1 FM with the pregame show set for a 6:30 p.m. start.
In the regular season finale, the Eagles will travel to Roanoke for a battle between two of the league's winningest coaches. The Maroons enter the week with a 9-14 record and a 5-9 mark in league play.
Despite four players in double figures and a pair of double-double efforts, the Eagles couldn't hold on to a late lead in a 69-64 loss to the Maroons in Nininger Hall earlier this season.
Roanoke is paced on the offensive end by Paxton Gwin's 15.1 points per game, which ranks her fourth in the league. Gwin has been in double figures in 19 of Roanoke's 23 games this season, including a pair of 27-point efforts.
On the glass, Gwin also leads the way with 6.9 boards per game.
Saturday's game is set for a 2 p.m. tip time at the Homer Bast Center.