Friday, December 1, 2017

Bradley Men's Basketball picks up win against Eastern Illinois

Eastern Illinois senior Ray Crossland attempts a free throw in the closing minutes of Friday night's game against Bradley in Peoria. The Braves would go on to win, 67-56. PHOTO / ALEX STAAB
Peoria, IL - The Bradley Braves Men's Basketball team (7-1) (0-0) was already on one of its greatest starts to a season in recent years, having won 6 of 7 games, their best start since the 2004-2005 season, when the Braves started at (7-1). Friday night's match up with Eastern Illinois (2-5) was just the next step.

The game got going quickly as both the Panthers and Braves traded a basket each within the opening minute. It would continue to be that way for the first three minutes, until the scoring calmed down on both sides, and there was just more than a three-minute gap without any scoring on either side. 

Despite the scoring having resumed after awhile, the teams continued to battle it out, with the lead staying within five points until the Braves went on an 11-3 run, capped off by a shot from Elijah Childs to put Bradley ahead of Eastern Illinois, 25-16. From there, the Panthers made a 6-0 run before the halftime buzzer, when Bradley had the lead after 20 minutes, 25-22. 

Third-year Bradley Head Coach Brian Wardle thought things could've gone better for his team in the first half.

"Basketball is a game of runs. Every game is going to be that way. I thought we could get it to 8, 10, 11. We just weren't able to do that."

The Braves started the second half with an offense that saw the lead increase again, but as Wardle mentioned, it didn't get to where he would've liked, and eventually Eastern Illinois would make another comeback. This time, the game got within two points, before Bradley went back on their own run, and by the midway point of the second half, the Braves would have a 10-point lead over Eastern Illinois, 48-38. 

Wardle believed that there were a couple of his players that made a difference in the second half, providing great contributions to getting that lead into double figures.

"Elijah and Jayden (Hodgson) played really well in the second half for us. It was good to have Jayden back out there." 

An issue in the second half was the instances in which play was stopped, whether it be for common fouls, a technical foul, a flagrant foul, it would begin to add up, causing problems for the Braves, according to Coach Wardle.

"It was hard to get in the flow with a lot of stoppage of play. It's hard to get into any rhythm."

Despite play stopping and Eastern Illinois going 11-16 from the free throw line in the second half, the Braves were able to keep the lead for 32:15 of the 40 minutes, and would come away with their seventh victory of the 2017-2018 season.

Elijah Childs finished just shy of a double-double, totaling a team-high 14 points, to go along with 9 rebounds. Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye did finish with a double-double, scoring 13 points and bringing in 10 rebounds. Wardle believes that it pays off to have a young player like Childs play like he had against Eastern Illinois.

"It just brings more depth and versatility to us. He's really embraced his role with what we need. He knows that it's not who starts, but who finishes for me." 

Although the Braves did get their fifth straight victory for the first time in nine years, the Braves head coach thinks there's still room to work.

"There's always things we have to improve on. We're winning games. We're playing some really good teams coming up. We have to be ready to go."

The Braves will travel to San Diego, California tomorrow to play the San Diego State Aztecs in the Missouri Valley - Mountain West Challenge on Sunday, December 3rd, with tipoff coming at 5:00 pm. The Aztecs are currently (6-2) and are coming off a 66-57 road win over San Diego on November 30th. 

Bradley Scorers: 
Elijah Childs (14), Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye (13), Jayden Hodgson (12), Darrell Brown (11), Koch Bar (6), Nate Kennell (6), JoJo McGlaston (3), Donte Thomas (2)

Braves Statistical Leaders: 
Field Goals Made | Elijah Childs (6 for 9)
3-Pointers Made | Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye (2 for 4)
Free Throws Made | Jayden Hodgson (5 for 7)
Rebounds | Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye (10)
Assists | Darrell Brown (4)
Blocks | Donte Thomas (2)
Steals | 6 players (1)

Braves Team Stats
Field Goals | 24 for 46 (52.2%)
3-Pointers | 6 for 16 (37.5%)
Free Throws | 13 for 16 (81.3%)
Rebounds | 39
Assists | 12
Blocks | 4
Steals | 6
Turnovers | 21

Next Bradley Game:
Sunday, December 3rd, 2017
@ San Diego State Aztecs
Stream | Mountain West Network on Stadium - via Facebook
Radio | 1470 AM / 100.3 FM (WMBD)
Time | 5:00 pm 

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