BRIDGEWATER, Va. - Sophomore guard Liam Caswell knocked down a 3-pointer from straight away with 4:05 left in the game to give Bridgewater a 78-75 lead and the Eagles held on down the stretch to defeat Mary Washington, 84-80, at Nininger Hall.
The victory was the first for first-year Bridgewater head coach Steve Enright. The loss was the first of the season for Mary Washington, now 4-1 overall.
UMW led 21-19 in the first half when sophomore guard Will Bowser came off the bench and shot the Eagles into the lead. Bowser made back-to-back threes and then Caswell and Jalil Langston combined to go 4-for-4 at the foul line to put the Eagles up 29-21. After a jumper by UMW's Da"Shawn Cook, Davrion Grier took a nifty pass from Bowser and converted a three-point play to make it 32-23. Bowser then added a 15-footer to put the Eagles up 34-23.
Just as quickly as Bridgewater built its lead, UMW made it disappear with a 21-5 run to go up 44-39 with 1:23 left in the half. Bridgewater's Langston and UMW's Anias Saunders traded 3-pointers before Drew Johnson scored inside to put the visitors up 50-42. Kellen Hodge then took a dish from Bowser and scored in the closing seconds to pull the Eagles to within 50-44 at the half.
Mary Washington led by eight, 52-44 early in the second half, but the Eagles responded with a 12-3 run to take the lead, 56-55. The visitors regained the lead and built the advantage back to six, 67-61, with 11:19 left in the game.
Bridgewater stayed within striking distance and regained the upper hand on a Chandler Murray 3-pointer, making the score 71-69, with 7:41 remaining. Murray hit again from long range for a 74-69 Eagles' lead, but buckets by Saunders and Da'Shawn Cook pulled UMW to within 75-73. Saunders scored from the paint to tie the score before Caswell hit his 3-pointer to give the Eagles the lead for good, 78-75.
A layup by UMW's Greg Rowson made it a one-point game with 3:55 left and the score remained the same until Murray knocked down a clutch 3-pointer, giving the Eagles an 81-77 lead with 1:06 left to play.
Murray added two foul shots to push the lead to six before Saunders drained a long 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to keep UMW's hopes alive. Murray was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Mary Washington a chance to tie with a 3-pointer. Riley Welch worked free for an open 3-pointer from the left corner, but his shot was long and Murray controlled the rebound. Murray added 1-of-2 at the line with two seconds left to ice the 84-80 victory.
Five Bridgewater players reached double figures, led by Murray's 18 points, Bowser scored 16, Grier and Caswell had 14 points each and Langston added 11. The Eagles battled the visitors to a virtual standoff on the glass with UMW holding a 48-46 edge. Murray grabbed nine rebounds and Grier added eight. Both teams took care of the basketball with Bridgewater turning the ball over nine times while UMW finished with seven turnovers.
Saunders scored 18 points to lead five Mary Washington players in double figures. Drew Johnson posted a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
The Eagles, now 1-2 on the season, return to Nininger Hall on Saturday evening to host Pfeiffer University. Game time is set for 6:00 p.m.