Women’s basketball: Strong third pushes Bridgewater past EMU

bridgewater eaglesBridgewater College used a dominant third quarter Wednesday evening to open up an 11-point lead and then held on down the stretch to defeat rival Eastern Mennonite 70-66 in ODAC women’s basketball action.

With the victory, the Eagles moved above the .500 mark at 10-9 overall and 6-5 in the conference. EMU dropped to 13-6 overall and 6-5 in the ODAC.

Eastern Mennonite won the first meeting between the rivals earlier this season in double overtime andWednesday’s contest was another closely contested game.

There was one tie and four lead changes in the opening 10 minutes. The Royals twice held a four-point lead, the biggest margin in the opening period. A 3-pointer by Jessica Rheinheimer put EMU up 10-6 and, after the Eagles closed to 12-11, Rheinheimer hit another 3-pointer for a 15-11 Royals lead.

Jessalyn Monday‘s three-point play pulled the Eagles back to within a point and the teams traded points until a short jumper by Eagles center Oshene Kelly with 19 seconds left, cut the EMU to one, 17-16, after the opening period.

The second quarter offered more of the same as the score was tied twice and the lead changed hands four times early in the period.

Two free throws by Bridgewater’s Cassidy Burkholder tied the score at 25-25 before a 7-0 spurt pushed the Royals to their biggest lead of the game. Rheinheimer hit two jumpers and Sa’Mone Moore connected from long range to put the Royals on top 32-25 with 2:45 left in the half.

A 3-pointer by Jessica Lam trimmed the margin to four, but two foul shots by Rheinheimer gave EMU a 34-28 advantage. Eagles freshman guard Sydni Carey knocked down a pair of mid-range jumpers in the final 1:05 to send Bridgewater to the half trailing by just two, 34-32.

Buckets by Jessi Strom and Burkholder to open the second half put the Eagles up by two before a bucket by EMU point guard Alicia Ygarza tied the game at 36-36.

Bridgewater then hit the visitors with a 7-0 spurt to take the lead for good. Kelly scored twice from in close and Strom added a 3-ball for a 43-36 lead with 7:07 remaining in the third period.

Myneshia Walker scored four straight points for the Royals, but Strom connected again from beyond the arc to put the Eagles lead at six, 46-40.

Rheinheimer tallied five straight points to make it a one-point game before the Eagles responded with another 7-0 spurt. Burkholder scored on a driving layup and Lam added five quick points, making the score 53-45 at the3:14 mark of the third period.

After another hoop from Rheinheimer, Lam converted a three-point play and Monday scored after grabbing an offensive rebound to give the Eagles a 58-47 lead heading into the final 10 minutes of play.

The lead was still 11 points, 63-52, when Lam swished a jumper at the 6:47 mark, but the Royals fought back with a 7-0 spurt to pull to within four.

Jonae Guest made two free throws and Rheinheimer, who finished with 30 points, scored the next five points, trimming the Eagles advantage to 63-59 with 3:10 remaining.

Bridgewater stretched the margin back to six before a 3-pointer by Walker with 52 seconds left cut the margin in half, 65-62.

The Eagles made just 11-of-20 free throws on the night, but Strom and Lam came up clutch on the next two possessions to keep the Eagles out front.

Strom hit two foul shots with 43 seconds left for a five-point lead, but Jazmine Carter answered with an inside hoop for the Royals to once again make it a one-possession game, 67-64, with 33 seconds left.

Bridgewater got the ball into its best free throw shooter’s hands on the next trip and Lam hit two big foul shots with 20 seconds remaining to put the margin back to five, 69-64.

The Royals missed two shots on their ensuing possession and Burkholder grabbed the rebound after the second miss with just 12 seconds remaining. The Eagles senior hit 1-of-2 at the line to make it 70-64.

EMU wasn’t quite finished as Rheinheimer was fouled on a 3-point shot with seven seconds left to give the visitors hope. She made the first two foul shots, but missed the second and Monday controlled the rebound to clinch the victory for the Eagles.

Lam led four Bridgewater players in double figures with 16 points. Strom scored 13 points, followed by Burkholder with 12 and Carey with 10.

The Royals controlled the boards by a 47-37 margin. Burkholder grabbed 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season while Kelly just missed a double-double with nine points and 11 boards.

The key stat of the contest could be found in the turnover column. EMU finished the contest with 22 miscues while the Eagles turned the ball over a season-low seven times.

Bridgewater will look for its fourth straight win Saturday afternoon when the Eagles host Hollins University. Bridgewater won the first meeting back in December, 81-53. Saturday’s tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m.

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