Shenandoah rallies to defeat Bridgewater, 57-54

bridgewater eaglesShenandoah erased a 14-point second-half deficit Wednesday evening to defeat Bridgewater College, 57-54, in ODAC men’s basketball action at Nininger Hall.

Points were hard to come by in the opening 20 minutes as both teams struggled to take care of the basketball. Shenandoah turned the ball over 14 times and the Eagles reciprocated with 12 turnovers.

Shenandoah (6-8, 2-3 in the ODAC) also struggled to put the basketball in the hole, making just six shots in 28 attempts (21.4 percent), including a 0-for-9 effort from beyond the arc.

Bridgewater (5-9, 2-3 in the ODAC) shot 45.5 percent in the half, connectiong on 10-of-22 shots, but the Eagles made just 2-of-11 from 3-point range and 1-of-6 from the foul line.

Despite their turnovers woes and frigid shooting performance, the Hornets trailed by just six points at the break, 23-17.

Shenandoah led 17-16 with 2:50 remaining in the first half before consecutive buckets by Bryce Boggs gave the Eagles a 20-17 lead with just under one minute left in the half.

After the teams traded turnovers, Shenandoah’s Seth Myers went to the foul line, but missed both free throws with 17 seconds left. Kevin Saylor knocked down a 3-pointer on the final possession of the half, sending the Eagles to the break with a 23-17 lead.

Bridgewater controlled play early in the second half and opened up a 14-point lead with 13:45 left in the game.

Efe Balfour worked inside for Bridgewater’s first bucket of the second half and Jesse Case hit a 3-pointer to push the margin to double digits, 28-17.

After Evan Bates made two foul shots, Saylor hit from long range, giving the Eagles a 31-19 cushion. A layup by the Hornets’ Jalyn Jarrett cut the margin to 10, but two free throws by Essex Thompson and a driving layup by Romello Crowell gave the Eagles their biggest lead of the night, 35-21.

Shenandoah abandoned its zone defense and the switch to man-to-man paid quick dividends. The Hornets erased the 14-point deficit with a 22-6 run over the next five minutes to take the lead.

A steal and dunk by Malcolm Clark pulled the Hornets to within two points, but Balfour answered with a layup off a nifty pass in traffic from Phil Baumgartner to put the Eagles on top, 39-35. Shenandoah’s Dalon McHugh knocked down a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game, but once again Balfour responded, this time with a tip-in to keep the Eagles out front 41-38.

McHugh then scored on a layup and Kwa McDonald added a bucket from beyond the arc to give the Hornets their first lead of the second half, 43-41, with 8:56 left in the game.

A dunk by Clark put the Hornets up by six, 49-43, with 5:11 left, but the Eagles scored the next five points to close to within one. Jesse Case hit 1-of-2 foul shots and Baumgartner banked in a short jumper, making the score 49-46. After the Hornets’ McDonald missed from in close, Boggs scored in traffic to cut the Shenandoah lead to 49-48 with 4:09 on the clock.

Shenandoah’s Jonah Meredith and Bridgewater’s Thompson traded buckets before back-to-back hoops by Boggs put the Eagles back on top 54-51 with 2:01 remaining.

A dunk by Derrick Perry pulled the Hornets to within one and, following an Eagles’ turnover, Clark drove the baseline for a bucket, giving Shenandoah a 55-54 lead with 24 seconds left.

Thompson missed a 3-pointer from the right corner on Bridgewater’s next possession and Clark controlled the rebound. The Eagles fouled Clark and he hit both free throws for a 57-54 Hornets’ lead with 12 seconds left.

After moving the ball to the front-court, the Eagles called timeout to set up a play for a potential game-tying shot. A cross-court pass found Case open in the left corner, but his 3-pointer was partially blocked by Clark and the ball went out of bounds to the Hornets with less than a second left to play.

Boggs led the Eagles with 14 points and Balfour scored 10. Clark led all scorers with 21 points and McHugh came off the Shenandoah bench to add 10.

Shenandoah held a 38-32 edge on the boards with Clark pulling down 11 rebounds to complete his double-double. Balfour led the Eagles with seven rebounds.

Bridgewater is back in action Saturday when it makes the trip to Greensboro, N.C., to play Guilford College. Game time is set for 4:30 p.m.