HARRISONBURG, VA --- As a team, EMU's women dominated the boards, 50-35. Individually, much of that was triggered by the motor of junior Jess Washington (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge), who racked up a career high 20 rebounds, including seven offensive, as the Royals beat rival Bridgewater, 72-67.
Chrissy Delawder (Broadway, Va./Broadway) added nine rebounds while guard Myneshia Walker (Freeman, Va./Brunswick) took four of her six off the offensive glass as Eastern Mennonite grabbed 20 offensive rebounds.
With Tuesday's win, the Royals improve to 10-5 overall and 5-2 in the ODAC. BC fell to 7-8 and 3-4.
Although EMU led from start to finish with a largest lead at 13 points, they were never able to pull away from the feisty Eagles. Early on, Washington single-handedly converted a three-point play, picking off a pass and going the length of the floor for an and-one, bumping the margin to 14-5.
The lead hovered around 10 much of the first half and the women led 35-28 at the break.
Bridgewater got within four early in the third, but Walker had five points during a 9-0 spurt that bumped the margin to its largest at to 48-35 with 4:44 left in the frame. But a cold finish allowed the Eagles back within 50-44 at the final break.
Washington found Lexi Deffenbaugh (Fishersville, Va./Wilson Memorial) for a three on EMU's first possession of the final frame before she added her own layup on the next possession to get a little space back at 55-44. BC scored the next six, and Jessalyn Monday eventually capped a 10-2 run with a bucket at the 5:35 mark, getting the visitors back within 57-54.
Walker had the answer, however, and she did it off the offensive glass, grabbing her own missed shot for a putback. She and Delawder then scored the next four points from the free throw line, pushing EMU's cushion right back up to 63-54.
The Eagles would later cut the lead to three at 65-62 with 1:19 to go, but the women made 7-of-8 free throws over the final 52 seconds to ice the win.
Both teams struggled to find their shooting touch, each settling at a clip just over 35%. The Royals made the difference with a 17-8 advantage in second chance points and by getting to the stripe. Playing against one of the best teams in the ODAC in regards to getting to, and making, free throws, Eastern Mennonite hit 24-of-33 attempts. Both numbers were season highs. Bridgewater came in at 15-19.
Washington had the best game of her career, racking up 21 points with her 20 rebounds for new career marks. She had her fourth consecutive double double by halftime. The forward also picked out three steals, tying her career high.
Mary Lou Meck holds EMU's record for rebounds in a game by grabbing 24 in a game against Roanoke in 1976.
Delawder was a great compliment to Washington in the frontcourt, adding 13 points and nine rebounds, narrowly missing her first career double double. Walker hit for 15 counters. Deffenbaugh hit a pair of threes and picked up five assists.
Rebecca Harvey led Bridgewater with 22 points and nine rebounds. Briana Moore added 12. Madison Baum topped all players with six assists.
The Royals continue to work through the toughest month of their season, heading to Guilford College on Saturday. The Quakers (10-3/4-2 ODAC) are arguably the best defensive team in the ODAC, holding opponents to 52.1 points per game on 32.7% shooting. Game time in Greensboro, N.C., is 2:00pm.