Bridgewater hit No. 15 Virginia Wesleyan with an 18-4 run early in the first half to take an 18-8 lead and the Eagles never trailed again as they knocked off the Marlins, 78-65, Wednesday evening in Old Dominion Athletic Conference men’s basketball action.
The victory is the second this season for Bridgewater (7-4, 2-1 in the ODAC) over a nationally-ranked team at Nininger Hall. The Eagles defeated Hampden-Sydney, ranked No. 20 at the time, earlier this season.
Tavis Stapleton led the Eagles with a huge night as the senior guard recorded a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Ronnie Thomas scored 14 points, Ed Reddick added 13 and Aaron Adams finished with 10 to lead the Bridgewater offense.
Stapleton’s 13 boards paced Bridgewater to a dominating 45-30 edge in rebounding. Adams’ 10 points led the Eagles reserves as they contributed 27 points off the bench.
Bridgewater made 31-of-60 field goal attempts for 51.7 percent from the floor. That included a solid 5-of-9 mark from 3-point range.
The Eagles also did the job on the defensive end, holding the Marlins to 41.8 percent shooting. Bridgewater limited Marlins standout DJ Woodmore to just 11 points, 13 below his season average. Virginia Wesleyan (9-3, 2-1 ODAC) entered the contest averaging 87 points per game.
After turning the ball over on its first two possessions and falling behind 4-0, the Eagles caught fire with an 18-4 run.
Thomas scored eight points and Stapleton added a pair of jumpers to fuel the Eagles early run. Adams capped the surge with a pair of layups as Bridgewater opened up an 18-8 lead.
The Marlins cut the 10-point deficit in half and trailed 24-19 before the Eagles put together an 11-3 spurt to take their biggest lead of the half, 35-22.
A layup by Kyle Welty and a three-point play by Thomas pushed the margin back to double digits before a 3-pointer by Wesleyan’s Cameron Owens made the score 29-22. A jumper by Stapleton and a tip-in by Ed Reddick push the lead back to double digits before Welty capped the run with a baseline jumper for a 35-22 Eagles lead.
The Marlins scored the next seven points before Bridgewater closed the half with a steal and layup from Adams to lead 37-29 at the break.
Bridgewater opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Matthew Hunter, but Owens answered with a trey for the Marlins. After a layup by Zach Hunter, Trent Batson hit two foul shots and Woodmore added a layup to pull the Marlins to within six, 42-36. Reddick and Stapleton answered with buckets and the Eagles lead was back to 10 points, 46-36, with 16:48 left.
A jumper by Woodmore once again trimmed the lead to six with 15:26 left, but Stapleton knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Reddick scored on a driving layup to push the Bridgewater lead to 11, 51-40.
The Marlins made one more run at the Eagles and cut the deficit to five, 60-55, when Colby Heard, who led the Marlins with 15 points, made two free throws at the 6:14 mark.
Reddick responded with a three-point play and Stapleton banked in a 3-pointer from the left wing with the shot clock approaching zero to give Bridgewater a 66-55 lead with 4:06 on the clock. After Sedric Nady missed two free throws, Thomas swished a 3-pointer to make it 69-55 with 3:29 to go.
Adams put the exclamation point on the victory with a breakaway dunk with 1:13 left that put the Eagles up 74-60.
The Eagles return to action Saturday afternoon when they host the Guilford Quakers for a 2 p.m. tipoff. Guilford recently dropped out of the Top 25 after peaking at No. 17 in the rankings.