HARRISONBURG, Va. - Eastern Mennonite erased an eight-point Bridgewater lead in the final 4:21 to force overtime, but the Eagles controlled the extra session to defeat their rivals and pick up a huge ODAC victory, 76-65, Wednesday evening at Yoder Arena.
The victory secured a home game for the Eagles in the first round of the ODAC tournament Monday evening. Bridgewater, now 12-12 overall and 7-8 in the conference, closes out the regular season Saturday afternoon at Roanoke College.
Bridgewater led the Royals, 56-48, when Jimmie Sanders hit a jumper with 4:21 left in the game. DJ Hill then scored inside for the Royals and teammate Xavier McCants added a layup to cut the margin in half, 56-52, with 3:41 left to play.
Chandler Murray made two foul shots to put the Eagles back on top by six points, but a foul sent Hill to the line for two foul shots. Hill made just one free throw and the Eagles' lead was 58-53 with three minutes left in the game.
Dimetri Chambers made 1-of-2 foul shots for the Eagles to push the lead back to six, but Hill scored inside to pull EMU to within four, 59-55, with 1:32 remaining.
Sanders went to line with 1:02 left and calmly made two foul shots for a 61-55 Eagles' lead. Hill then went back to work in the paint and his bucket once again pulled the Royals to within four, 61-57, with 52 seconds on the clock.
The Eagles turned the ball over on a shot-clock violation with 22 seconds left and EMU senior Travis Clower made a 35-footer to make it a one-point game, 61-60, with 11 seconds remaining.
The Royals fouled Chambers who made the second of two free throws to give the Eagles a 62-60 lead with nine seconds left. McCants then made a driving layup with just two seconds left to send the game to overtime tied at 62-62.
Bridgewater got on the board first in the extra session when Davrion Grier hit two foul shots for a 64-62 Bridgewater lead. Hill made 1-of-2 at the line for the Royals before Bridgewater's Ken Stanciel scored after grabbing an offensive rebound, giving the Eagles a 66-63 lead. Following a Royals' turnover, Chambers knocked down a fadeaway 15-footer to put the Eagles up 68-63 with 2:37 left in OT.
Another EMU turnover gave the ball back to the Eagles and Murray scored on a layup in traffic to increase the lead to 70-63 with two minutes remaining.
Clower missed a 3-pointer and Murray grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 1:05 left. Murray hit the second free throw, making the score 71-63. McCants then missed a contested layup and Josh Cammon controlled the rebound for the Eagles, Cammon was fouled and made both free throws to put the Eagles up 73-63 with 44 seconds left.
Tim Jones made two foul shots for the Royals, but Murray made 3-of-4 free throws in the final 36 seconds to put the finishing touches on the big 76-65 victory.
Murray had a big game off the bench, leading the Eagles with 18 points. Grier just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds while adding four blocked shots. Cammon also finished in double figures with 10 points for the Eagles. Sanders passed for four assists and just missed double digits with nine points. Hill scored 16 points and Clower added 14 for the Royals.