Monday, November 19, 2018

Bradley cruises past Rockhurst in 43-point win

The team captains for Bradley and Rockhurst meet before tipoff at Renaissance Coliseum on Sunday. Bradley would go on to win the game by a 43-point margin, 83-40. PHOTO / ALEX STAAB
Peoria, Ill. - A year ago to the date, the Bradley women's basketball team (2-0) (0-0) were playing the Illinois Fighting Illini in the State Farm Center. Sunday afternoon, they were back home, now playing the Hawks of Division-II Rockhurst University. Although this game went down as a regular season contest for Bradley, it was treated as an exhibition for Rockhurst.

It took all of 13 seconds for Bradley to get into the scoring column, when Nyjah White made a layup to get things started. That was just part of what turned out to be a 10-2 run to begin the game, a run capped by a layup from Lasha Petree, who is yet to score fewer than 20 points in a game.

A pair of free throws from Rockhurst's Cassidy Moss put the Hawks within 12-6, but that would be all the visiting Hawks could muster in the first ten minutes. Bradley would close the quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 19-6 lead after one.

What started as a game of runs continued for the Braves in the second quarter. To be exact, a 16-2 run would propel Bradley to a 27-point lead.

Gabi Haack had a quality second quarter for the Braves, scoring all nine of her points in the quarter. Her conversion of a four-point play just before the break made it a 29-point difference.

The gap between teams remained roughly the same, as the Braves and Hawks traded baskets before a jumper to beat the buzzer by Bradley's Vanessa Markert sealed the scoring for the half with Bradley on top by 26.

Some may think that 13 seconds in was quite early for White's game-opening make. Chelsea Brackmann topped that. The junior made a layup with just nine seconds having ran off the clock.

Rockhurst was able to get off a run of their own, out-scoring the Braves 7-2 after halftime. That run came off a balanced scoring effort from Tracy Monahan, Rachel Holden, and Claire Rose.

That run made by the Hawks was short-lived, however. The scoring was sparse for awhile, but Bradley managed to work it back up to a 30-point game. Petree continued her scoring efforts with a three point play to put Bradley up 31.

Scoring for the Braves seemingly wouldn't stop, as Bradley wouldn't allow a Rockhurst point the last 3:15 of the quarter, following a pair of free throws by the Hawks' Hailey Dolphin.

The odds favored Bradley up 39 with 10 minutes to go, but the only question that remained is if Bradley would be able to maintain such a large lead. Actually, not only did they maintain said lead, they went ahead by even more.

Aaanah Interrante came off the bench for the Braves and scored seven points off a couple of shots from long distance, as well as one from the field. Another freshman contributor, Ellie Spelhaug, added a 3-4 trip at the free throw stripe.

Rockhurst finished off well. A 12-point quarter was about as balanced as the Hawks could've asked for, with five Hawks scoring.

After Chelsea Brackmann's layup with 5:21 to go, the rest of Bradley's scoring was all from newcomers, as Spelhaug, Interrante, and Asia Strong wrapped up another game of 80+ points, as the Braves finished the game with an 83-40 win.

Petree finished with a 21-point effort. Head Coach Andrea Gorski saw little to no flaws in her game today.

"She's a very aggressive player. She just attacks and has the mentality to score. I thought she was pretty efficient today. Just one or two bad shots."

What may be good for Bradley and its fans, and not so for opponents, Petree says her game is still in the 'feeling out' stage.

"I'm starting to figure out what I do well and don't do well, but not exposing it all the way."

Petree scored four points in the exhibition against Quincy, 24 against Southeast Missouri State, and the aforementioned 21-point game Sunday. The Michigan native says that she's gradually getting more used to the flow of basketball at the collegiate level.

"The first game, when I first got in, I was struggling. So, this game, I calmed myself down. It was a little easier transition to get into the game."

All 15 rostered Bradley players saw action on Sunday. All but three played 10 or more minutes. Coach Gorski was pleased with that fact.

"I think that's really important. Everyone's working hard in practice. It's a very cohesive team. It's good to get them some minutes up and down the floor, so they can see how practice translates into games. We got a lot of games coming up here in the next couple of weeks, so I thought it was good that we could get everyone in."

That translates to excitement from the players that are on the bench at any given point in time, as Petree said.

"We were all so excited to get everyone in. We were cheering as loud as we could on the sidelines for everyone who hadn't played yet."

The Braves will now head to the Florida Atlantic Tournament in Boca Raton, Florida. It's something that Petree says the whole team is really looking forward to.

"I love Florida. A lot of people on our team haven't been to Florida, so it'll be a first-time experience for a lot of us, but I can't wait to experience this with my teammates."

Coach Gorski shares how exciting it is to be making the trip, and says there's a couple of things to do right away. The Braves will have Monday and Tuesday in Peoria before leaving for FAU on Wednesday.

"We're excited to get down there (Boca Raton). We have a community service project that we're going to do down there in the local community to give back on Thanksgiving. It's really important that we do that. Then, we have a nice Thanksgiving dinner as a team."

Gorski did go on to add that it's also important to look into their next opponent, the Blue Hens from Delaware. The third-year head coach has some praise for the Blue Hens, and thinks it'll be one worth watching.

"Very good team, athletic. I think it's going to be high-scoring, fun to watch. We want to go down and get two wins."

Bradley will play the Blue Hens on Friday, November 23rd, at 1:30 pm central.

Bradley Scoring: Lasha Petree (21), Nyjah White (9), Gabi Haack (9), Chelsea Brackmann (8), Aannah Interrante (8), Tatum Koenig (7), Ellie Spelhaug (5), Vanessa Markert (5), Shunseere Kent (3), Emily Marsh (3), Ellisha Davis (2), Ryan Wilkins (2), Asia Strong (1)

Bradley Team Stats: 
Field Goals | 29 for 54 (53.7%)
Threes | 9 for 19 (47.4%)
Free Throws | 16 for 24 (66.7%)
Rebounds | 41
Fouls | 12
Assists | 17
Turnovers | 17
Blocks | 4
Steals | 10

Bradley Individual Leaders:
Field Goals | Lasha Petree (6 for 10)
Threes | Lasha Petree (3 for 5)
Free Throws | Lasha Petree (6 for 7)
Rebounds | Chelsea Brackmann (11)
Assists | Nyjah White & Tatum Koenig (4 each)
Blocks | Lasha Petree (2)
Steals | Lasha Petree (3)

Next Game:
Friday, November 23rd
v. Delaware
@ FAU Arena (Boca Raton, FL)
1:30 pm
LISTEN | 1290 AM WIRL

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