Bridgewater College erased a five-point halftime deficit, built a 14-point lead in the second half and then held on down the stretch to defeat Washington and Lee, 81-78, in ODAC action at Nininger Hall.
The win was the second straight for the Eagles who improved to 7-16 overall and 4-10 in the ODAC. The loss was the second in a row for the Generals now 12-11, 5-9 in the ODAC.
The Generals led for most of the first half and took their biggest lead when J.D. Ey threw down a dunk and Clay McLean followed with a layup to put W&L on top 26-16 with 6:50 left in the opening half.
The Eagles fought back and used some inspired defensive work from Ronnie Thomas to go on a 10-0 run.
After Kenneth Waugh hit 1-of-2 at the foul line, a steal and layup by Thomas cut the margin to nine, a steal by Ed Reddick led to a 3-pointer by Thomas that cut the lead to 28-22. After two free throws by Matthew Hunter, another steal by Thomas led to a layup by Hunter as the Eagles pulled to with two 28-26.
Ey powered inside to convert a three-point play, but Thomas answered with two foul shots, making the score 31-28. Layups by Ey and Whitaker pushed the margin back to seven before Hunter scored in the paint to pull the Eagles within five, 35-30, at the break.
"We were really struggling on the offensive end in the first half and we were down by 10 or 12 and the game was in danger of getting away from us," Bridgewater head coach Don Burgess said. "Ronnie came up with three big steals and we were able to get some points in transition and that helped us cut the lead down to five at the break."
The Generals held the upper hand early in the second, but foul trouble for Ey and Bridgewater's use of a smaller, quicker lineup turned the momentum in BC's favor.
"W&L was killing us on the boards," said Burgess. "With Ey and Whitaker, they have two of the best offensive rebounders in the ODAC. We decided to go small, hoping our quickness would be an advantage."
Two foul shots by Whitaker gave the Generals a 43-36 lead with 16:38 to play, but the Eagles outscored W&L 12-2 over the next 4:30 to take the lead.
Adams started the run with a short jumper and Reddick added a layup to pull the Eagles within three. Adams knocked down a baseline jumper to make it a one-point game, but Javon McDonald hit two foul shots to put the Generals up by three, 45-42.
A short jumper by Reddick and two free throws by Hunter put the Eagles up by one and a layup by Reddick gave Bridgewater a 48-45 lead with 11:56 left.
The score was tied at 48, 50 and 52-all before the Eagles took the lead for good with a 7-0 run. A layup by Romie Powell gave BC a 54-52 lead and two foul shots by Reddick extended the margin to four. Hunter then drained a long 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 49-42 lead with 7:14 left.
After a jumper by McDonald trimmed the margin to five, the Eagles scored the next nine points to lead by 14. Adams scored from in close and Reddick threw down a big one-handed dunk in transition off an assist from Hunter to give the Eagles a 63-54 lead. A layup by Hunter and a 3-pointer by Thomas pushed the advantage to 14 points, 68-54, with 4:14 left.
The Eagles seemed to have control of the game when Reddick hit two foul shots with 1:55 left to put the BC lead at 13, 74-61. Then, the Generals began chipping away at the deficit.
The Eagles fouled the Generals on three straight trips and W&L converted all six free throws. Meanwhile the Eagles were missing half of their free throws as the lead dwindled to seven, 76-69, with 39 seconds left.
After Benaiah Wise hit 1-of-2 foul shots, Clay McLean scored on a driving layup to make it a six-point game, 77-71. Waugh hit 1-of-2 at the line before McDonald drilled a long 3-pointer to pull the Generals within four, 78-74, with 26 seconds left.
Stapleton hit two big free throws for the Eagles, but the Generals converted with a four-point trip on its next possession to make it a two-point game. McDonald drew a foul driving to the hoop and made the first foul shot. He missed the second foul shot on purpose and Ey batted the rebound back toward midcourt. McDonald chased down the tip and hit a big 3-pointer to make the score 80-78 with 5.4 seconds left.
Bridgewater inbounded the ball to Waugh and he hit the second of two foul shots to give the Eagles a three-point lead, 81-78. McDonald dribbled just past the midcourt line and his desperation 3-pointer was well short as the Eagles escaped with the three-point win.
Reddick scored all 18 of his points in the second half to lead four Eagles in double figures. Thomas scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half and Hunter added a career-high 17. Adams finished the game with 10 points.
"Ed is a tough guard," said Burgess. "He's quick and he's strong and he was able to get to the rim and finish in the second half. I thought our guards, Ronnie, Hunter and Benaiah Wise really played well. We turned it over just nine times and we created 24 turnovers. Romie Powell gave us some really good minutes and finished with eight points.
"We have to be better down the stretch," Burgess continued. "You've got to make free throws and we have to be smarter at the defensive end. But. we'll take the win. It was another great team effort as a lot of different guys stepped up with big plays."
Ey led the Generals with 19 points and 12 boards and Whitaker also posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. McDonald finished with 19 points and McLean scored 17.
Bridgewater is back in action Wednesday when the team makes the long trek south to play at Emory & Henry. The Eagles close out the regular season next Saturday when they host Roanoke College.