Balfour’s double-double key in Bridgewater win over Methodist
Bridgewater College bounced back from Friday’s tough loss to Gallaudet with a solid 75-66 victory Saturday afternoon over Methodist University on Day 2 of the Eastern Mennonite University Tip-Off Invitational.
The Eagles got off to a slow start as the Monarchs opened up an early 11-2 advantage. Methodist guard Blake Davis drained a 3-pointer for the Monarchs’ biggest lead of the game, 19-8, and a 3-pointer by Will Baggett kept the margin in double digits at 22-12 with 10:12 left in the half.
Bridgewater reeled off the next seven points to pull with three. Keonte Dennis worked in the paint for a bucket and Bryce Boggs drove the lane and converted a three-point play, making the score 22-17. Efe Balfour added two free throws to pull Bridgewater closer at 22-19 with 8:29 remaining.
A three-point play by Irving Aughburns put the Monarchs up 39-32 with 2:32 left in the half, but Bridgewater scored the next five points to pull within a bucket. Dennis swished a 3-pointer from deep in the left corner and Boggs worked inside for another layup to trim the deficit to two, 39-37, with 33 seconds left in the half.
Following a Methodist turnover, the Eagles had a chance to pull even in the closing seconds, but a turnover with six seconds left ended the half with Bridgewater trailing by two, 39-37.
Boggs opened the second half with jumper to tie the score and he followed that with a 3-pointer to give Bridgewater its first lead of the game, 42-40.
The score was tied at 42-42 and 44-44 before a 3-pointer by Bryan Rouse put the Monarchs up by three. Methodist held the lead until a three-point play by Joe Lewis pulled the Eagles even at 51-51 with 9:24 left in the game.
Methodist led by two 55-53, but Balfour muscled inside for a three-point play and then added a layup on the next possession as the Eagles took the lead for good, 58-55 with 5:53 left.
A layup by Boggs put the Eagles up 60-55, but Rouse hit again from beyond the arc to make it a two-point game. Balfour and Methodist forward Davion Ayabarreno traded hoops before a driving layup by Romello Crowell put the Eagles on top 64-60 with 2:48 to go.
The Monarchs were then whistled for an offensive foul and Balfour worked the paint for another three-point play, giving Bridgewater a 67-60 lead with 2:10 left.
Rouse kept the Monarchs in contention with a long 3-pointer, but a free throw by Boggs and another free throw by Jesse Case put the Eagles’ lead at six, 69-63 with 54 seconds on the clock.
Rouse struck again as another long 3-pointer made it a one-possession game, 69-66, with 42 seconds remaining.
The Eagles then moved the basketball to work the shot clock and Case found Balfour all alone for an easy layup and a 71-66 lead with 25 seconds left. Case and Boggs combined to make four straight foul shots to finish off the 75-66 victory.
With the game hanging in the balance, Balfour, Bridgewater’s sophomore big man, came up big. Balfour dominated the paint down the stretch as he scored 12 of his game-high 24 points in the final 7:01 of the game. He also led the Eagles to a 39-31 advantage on the glass, completing a double-double with a game-high 12 rebounds.
Boggs had another big offensive game as he followed up a 28-point performance against Gallaudet with 20 points against the Monarchs. Dennis just missed a double-double as he finished with 11 points and eight rebounds and Case turned in a strong floor game with eight points and five assists while turning ball over just once in 24 minutes.
In addition to controlling the boards, the Eagles took care of the basketball as they finished the game with just nine turnovers.
The Eagles are back in action Monday night when they open conference play against the Roanoke College Maroons. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m.