GALLATIN, Tenn. – Junior forward Rayshon Ward (Fayetteville, N.C.) posted a double-double with a season-high 22 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Bridgewater State University men's basketball team to an 80-77 overtime victory over Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Saturday afternoon at the Music City Classic in Gallatin, Tennessee.
Junior guard Ryan Carney (Easton, Mass.) added 17 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Bears who also received 12 points and eight boards from sophomore forward Nick Crocker (Falmouth, Mass.).
Bridgewater State improves to 2-9 on the season, while Wisconsin-Eau Claire falls to 6-4.
Junior guard Cole Rabedeaux (Poulsbo, Wash.) paced the Bluegold with a season-high 30 points to go along with six rebounds, while senior guard Ben Widdes (Rice Lake, Wisc.) checked in with 21 points, seven boards and four assists. Junior guard Sean Miller (Waukesha, Wisc.) also added 17 points and five rebounds for Eau Claire.
The Bears jumped out to an 11-2 lead over the first three minutes of the contest as four different players scored during the run including a trio of three-pointers from Crocker, junior forward Dimitri St. Louis (Brockton, Mass.) and Ward. After the Blugold closed the gap to four (11-7), the Bears reeled off a 15-2 run highlighted by trifectas from Crocker, sophomore guard Jonathan Mercado (Lynn, Mass.) and Carney to extend the lead to 17 (26-9) with just under 11 minutes remaining in the opening stanza.
Bridgewater State maintained a double-digit advantage for the remainder of the first half and got up by as many as 22 points (37-15) following a Crocker jumper at the 6:50 mark. The Bears, however, would score just seven points the rest of the period and the lead shrunk to 11 (44-33) following a Blake Wacholz (Lakeville, Minn.) layup with 36 seconds remaining, The Blugold had a chance to get to within single digits, but were unable to convert as the two teams headed to the break with Bridgewater holding the 44-33 edge.
Carney and Crocker paced the Bears with ten points apiece over the first 20 minutes while Rabedeaux led all players with 11 points. Bridgewater shot 47% (15-32) in the first half including 7-for-11 (64%) from behind the arc. The Bears also went 7-for-10 at the free throw line. Wisconsin-Eau Claire connected on 39% (11-28) of its field goal attempts in the opening stanza and went just 2-for-10 (20%) from three-point range and 9-for-13 (69%) at the charity stripe.
The Bears scored the first 11 points of the second half capped off by a Carney three-pointer to take a commanding 55-33 advantage as the clock ticked under 17 minutes. Eau Claire answered with a 13-3 run highlighted by five points apiece by Rabedeaux and Miller to cut the deficit to 12 (58-46) with just under 13 minutes left to play. The Bears' lead fluctuated between 12 and 14 points over the next five minutes as neither could find a rhythm. Trailing 62-50 with under seven minutes remaining, Rabedeaux nearly single-handedly led Eau Claire on a 13-0 run to give the Bluegold their first lead of the game. Rabedeaux scored 11 of the 13 points during the spurt and Widdes capped it off with a breakaway layup at the 3:14 mark to put Eau Claire up 63-62 and force the Bears' third timeout of the half.
Out of the timeout, Ward knocked down a three-pointer to reclaim the lead (65-63) for Bridgewater State. After a stop, the Bears had a chance to extend the advantage but were unable to convert. Widdes dropped in a layup to tie it up, but BSU freshman guard Admar Jaramillo (Brockton, Mass.) answered with a layup at the other end of the floor to put BSU up 67-65 with 1:12 left to play in regulation. Out of a timeout, Miller knocked down a jumper to knot the score at 67-67 with 52 seconds showing on the scoreboard. The Bears had three chances to break the tie on the ensuing possession, but could not find the bottom of the net. A last second three-point attempt by the Blugold was off the mark as the game headed to overtime.
The two teams exchanged baskets in the first minute of overtime. Ward made 1 of 2 at the line at the 3:38 mark to put the Bears up by one (70-69). After the Blugold missed the front end of a one-on-one, Jaramillo buried a jumper to make it a three-point game (72-69) with three minutes left to play. Miller converted 1 of 2 at the stripe with 1:50 remaining to pull Eau Claire to within two (72-70). The Blugold got a key stop, but were unable to take advantage as Miller missed a layup. A dunk by Ward off a set play out of timeout (video) gave the Bears a 74-70 lead with 47 seconds showing on the scoreboard. Following a missed three-pointer, Crocker made a pair of free throws to extend the BSU lead to six (76-70) with 31 seconds remaining. Rabedeaux knocked down a three-pointer to cut the deficit in half, 76-73, with 21 seconds left to play. The Blugold quickly fouled out of a timeout, but Jaramillo made both free throws. Widdes answered with a layup, but Carney connected on both free throws at the other end of the floor to give the Bears an 80-75 lead with eight seconds remaining. A layup by Widdes with just two seconds left accounted for the final score of 80-77.
Bridgewater shot 46% (27-59) from the floor for the game and 47% (9-19) from behind the arc. The Bears also went 17-for-22 (77%) at the free throw line including 7-for-8 in overtime. Eau Claire finished with shooting percentage of 43% (29-68) from the floor, 24% (5-21) from three-point range and just 50% (14-28) at the free throw line. The Blugold went 4-for-9 at the stripe in the second half and 1-for-6 in overtime.
The Music City Classic continues tomorrow for both teams as the Bears take on Ripon College at 3:00 PM (CST) and the Blugold face Mount Aloysius College at 11:00 AM (CST).