Defense propels No. 8 Virginia Wesleyan past Bridgewater

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VIRGINIA BEACH -- Smothering defense propelled No. 8 ranked Virginia Wesleyan College and stymied Bridgewater College in Wednesday's Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) men's basketball game.

Virginia Wesleyan entered the game as the conference leader in forcing turnovers and displayed that ability once again with alert play and quick hands that helped produce a season-high 20 Bridgewater turnovers.  That defensive effort helped the host Marlins to set the tone early in a 77-59 victory at the Jane P. Batten Student Center.

Bridgewater turned the ball over seven times in the first 11 minutes, as Virginia Wesleyan knocked the ball off the Eagles, intercepted passes, or forced errant throws. While the Eagles struggled to get anything going, the Marlins opened up a 20-4 lead with 9:18 remaining to be played in the half.  Senior Greg Montgomery (Virginia Beach/Princess Anne) sparked the opening surge, scoring nine of his game-high 23 points.

Sophomore Khory Moore (Arlington/Wakefield School), who netted 20 points overall, hit a triple to make it a 27-8 lead for the Marlins, who increased the spread to 21 when Nick Doyle (Southampton/Franklin) scored on a layup.  VWC led 35-14 at halftime.

Bridgewater started the second half with a little more success as ODAC leading scorer Ed Reddick (Virginia Beach/Frank E. Kellam) and Zach Hunter (Newport News/Woodside) scored the opening four points to cut into the Marlin lead. VWC came right back however, pushing out to a 26-point lead on a 9-2 run that featured seven points from Moore.

Triples from Cam Owens (Centreville/Centreville), Breven Lyons (Newport News/Warwick), and Doyle helped VWC to post its largest lead at 70-36, before Marlins head coach Dave Macedo began wholesale substitutions with 8:21 remaining to be played.  That opened things up somewhat for the Eagles, who were able to score 23 points in the final seven minutes.

Montgomery, who played just 24 minutes, hit 8-of-12 shots for the Marlins and 7-of-8 free throws for his totals.  Moore hit 8-of-16 shots during his 19 minutes of play, and Owens connected on 5-of-10 shots en route to 12 points.  The Marlins hit 8-of-19 three point shots, with Moore, Owens, and Lyons hitting two each.

Montgomery turned in an outstanding effort all over the court for VWC as he also led the Marlins with 10 rebounds en route to his ninth double-double of the season.  He tied Tim Jones (Richmond/Henrico) with a game-high four assists and produced a game-high four steals.

Bridgewater, which lost the battle of the boards 41-39, was led by Reddick with 11 as he also finished with a double-double after 39 minutes on the court. Hunter was the only other Eagle player in double figures as he finished with 11 points.

Virginia Wesleyan returns to competition on Saturday, Feb. 7, in ODAC action at Emory & Henry College beginning at 2 p.m.