Despite a rocky game, the Runnin Royals were nearly rescued by a last-second three pointer at the end of regulation and overtime. Both went in, however, Bridgewater's men responded with threes of their own to steal a late 81-80 decision over Eastern Mennonite Wednesday night in Harrisonburg.
The Royals fall to 5-6 overall and 0-3 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference while BC goes to 8-4 and 2-1.
Eastern Mennonite led much of the game, but couldn't pull away as their two big men, Sammy Thomas (Owings, Md./Northern) and DJ Hill (Woodbridge. Va. / Hylton), were hamstrung with foul trouble. The pace of the game slowed to a crawl as the teams combined for 55 fouls and 72 free throw attempts.
The Royals held the biggest lead by either team at eight points just 4:55 into the first half, going up 11-3 after Jerome Jones (Charles Town, W.V. / Washington) converted on a free throw. Over the next five minutes, the Eagles would go on a 10-3 run, until Isaiah Harris-Winn (Frederick, Md. / St. Maria Goretti) went from beyond the arc to make it 17-13 with 11:12 remaining in the first.
Each time the Royals pulled away with momentum, BC matched and exceeded. The closing 6:23 of the half saw two ties and four lead changes in a game packed with 15 ties and 15 lead changes overall. The Eagles headed into the locker room with a slight edge at 32-30.
Even with the mounting foul trouble, the men kept a close game for the first 6:43 of play into the second half. The Royals used a couple steals from RaShawn Latimer (Warrenton, Va./Kettle Run) to build their lead to six at 46-40 after Thomas and Kendall Hawkins (Charlottesville, Va. / Albemarle) made back-to-back layups with 12:54 to go.
Bridgewater slowly made a run, however, eventually tying the score at 46-46 at the 11:26 mark.
EMU then turned on their defense to trigger a 6-0 run after Xavier McCants (Olney, Md. / Sherwood) came up with a big steal to find Hill for a dunk making it 62-56 with 3:44 left.
The Eagles were bailed out on their next possession when Harris-Winn was called for a loose ball foul on what looked like could have been a held ball. Chandler Murray was able to nail a three pointer to make it a one possession game at 65-64.
Tim Jones (Forestville, Md. / Central) converted on both of his free throws, but with a layup and free throw from Bridgewater, the score was tied at 67-67 with 22 seconds left.
Harris-Winn sunk what seemed to be a game-winning three pointer, but AJ Horde answered on the other end with a trey of his own to make it 70-70 with 1.7 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
Latimer scored the first six for the Royals in OT off of a three pointer, free throw, and jump shot to make it 76-73 with 2:55 remaining. Murray went one-for-two at the stripe and then committed a foul on the other end to put Travis Clower (Romney, W.V. / Hampshire) behind the line.
With 1:16 left, Clower went one-for-two, which gave the Royals a six-point lead. The Eagles didn't quit, however, and used four consecutive points from Dimetri Chambers to make the score 80-78 with 27 seconds left.
After a missed three pointer and a turnover from the Royals, it was Bridgewater's AJ Horde who came up with his second big three to lift the Eagles over the Royals at 81-80.
Neither team saw great shooting as the Eagles finished at 33.3% from the field and 30.6% from the three-point arc. The Royals finished 35.7% from field goal range and 21.7% from beyond the arc, going just 5-23 from long range.
The men also forced 17 Eagle turnovers for a +4 margin and grabbed 17 offensive boards. The Royals were 25-41 from the stripe.
Harris-Winn finished with his fifth double-double of the season (and fourth in a row) with 20 points and 16 boards. Thomas also cashed in for a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Latimer scored 12 points with three steals and three assists, while Clower added 10 points, two steals, and two helpers.
Chambers led Bridgewater with 19 points and five rebounds. Horde finished with 15 points, 10 assists, and three steals.
The Runnin Royals return to action on Saturday afternoon when they host Guilford at 2:00pm, followed by EMU's women at 4:30pm against Randolph-Macon.