Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Bradley survives comeback from Western Illinois for 14-point Win

Bradley's Nyjah White and Western Illinois' Annabel Graettinger go for the opening tip at Renaissance Coliseum in Peoria on Tuesday morning's Field Trip Day game. Bradley would win the contest, 82-68. PHOTO / ALEX STAAB
Peoria, Ill. - The last time Western Illinois (3-6) and Bradley (7-0) met was last season in Peoria. In a thrilling and high-scoring game, Bradley came out on top, 87-80. When meeting in 2018, it would end up being the same thing, but it didn't start that way, at least for the visiting Leathernecks.

At the first media timeout, Bradley already held a 14-4 lead, after a three from freshman Lasha Petree forced Leathernecks head coach JD Gravina to call his first timeout, thus becoming the media.

For the most part, Bradley was able to keep that lead where it was at in the first place. The Braves led by double figures still until a free throw by Grace Gilmore cut it within nine, then a pair of free throws from Olivia Kaufmann made it a seven-point game after a quarter.

In the Oakland game on December 1st, Gabi Haack shot 1-10 from the field. In tuesday's game, Haack turned it around. A three of hers kicked off the second quarter scoring. Actually, it wasn't until the 6:03 mark of the quarter that someone other than Haack scored for Bradley. The sophomore was responsible for Bradley's first eight points of the quarter.

Junior Ryan Wilkins would turn into a factor, knocking down a couple of shots to push bradley's lead to 10 with the second shot.

The first half, and second quarter especially, was a game of runs for the Braves. Individual runs to be exact. Next up was senior Vanessa Markert. The Brown County alum scored Bradley's next four points on a layup on a pair of free throws.

Wilkins' first of two shots in the quarter would make it a 10-point game. From the time of Wilkins' make through the halftime break, the Braves maintained a double figure lead. It would be 41-29 in favor of Bradley at the half.

The Braves were able to maintain momentum once the third quarter got underway. A jumper from sophomore Nyjah White gave Bradley a 14-point lead midway through the third.

It even got as high as 18, when Chelsea Brackmann scored on a layup to force a Western Illinois timeout.

Western Illinois would get it within 12, but the Braves would still be leading by not only double figures, but that 14-point spread, with just 10 minutes to go.

The fourth quarter is where things became really interesting, as if it wasn't already. Bradley started with a layup from Peoria native Jailynn Lawson to make it a 16-point game, but Western Illinois decided to turn on the jets. The only question would be if they had enough time.

It stayed a 10+ point game until a layup from Danni Nichols brought the Leathernecks back within 10 for the first time since the 4:20 mark of the second quarter.

Western Illinois got even closer when Kaufmann hit a three to make it just a five-point difference, but that was the closest they'd get.

A free throw from White put Bradley back up double figures soon thereafter and that would seal Bradley's seventh straight win. The final score favored Bradley, 82-68.

Bradley Scoring: Nyjah White (23), Lasha Petree (19), Chelsea Brackmann (12), Gabi Haack (12), Vanessa Markert (8), Ryan Wilkins (4), Tatum Koenig (2), Ellie Spelhaug (2)

Bradley Team Stats:
FGs | 29-75 (38.7%)
3's | 6-27 (22.2%)
FTs | 18-25 (72.0%)
Reb | 55
Fls | 17
Ast | 21
TO | 18
Blk | 3
Stl | 9

Bradley Individual Leaders:
FGs | Nyjah White (10 for 15)
3's | Lasha Petree (4 for 14)
FTs | Chelsea Brackmann & Gabi Haack (4 each)
Reb | Chelsea Brackmann (15)
Ast | Nyjah White (8 - career high)
Blk | Nyjah White (2)
Stl | Nyjah White & Lasha Petree (2 each)

They Said It | HC Andrea Gorski:
On Gabi Haack's shooting in today's game
"Her legs are dead. We've played so many games in the past 10 days and two weeks. Not a lot of recovery. She gives it everything she has every time. There's not a rebound she doesn't go after. She's a physical player. She just did some things today that you don't really notice on the stat sheet. She's just a really steady player."

On Western Illinois' comeback
"They have five three-point shooters out there at the same time. It's a terrible matchup for us. We have a couple of bigs out there trying to defend guards. You know they're going to hit some. They're a tough team for us to play. They're a nightmare for anyone, just because of the matchups. Their style of play, it's different than what you face on a day-to-day basis.

On Taylor Higginbotham of Western Illinois
"I remember last year she had a great game against us. Just a good overall player. She can score inside-outside. She's crafty. We were worried about her coming in."

On Nyjah White narrowly missing a triple-double
"I think Nyjah's just been a little disappointed in her play the last couple of games. No one's harder on Nyjah than Nyjah. I thought today, she just worried about the next play. She didn't let one turnover lead into anything else. She had some great passes in there. Some big buckets down the stretch, too.

On four of five starters scoring in double figures
"We had 21 assists on 29 field goals. I mean, that's good basketball right there. I wish we would've shot a little higher percentage, but when you have 21 assists, that says a lot about how they're learning to play with each other and willing to share the ball."

On upcoming three-game road trip
"We're just going to take a deep breath. The kids haven't had a day off. Staff hasn't. We've had so many back-to-back games. We haven't even really thought too far ahead. I know we've done a good job in this stretch of taking it one game at a time. I expect we'll enjoy being (7-0) today, then tomorrow we're looking to go (3-0) in the next non-conference stretch."

They Said It | #11, Lasha Petree
On early momentum to Western Illinois comeback
"I think we just ended up losing focus a little bit on defense. We should've picked it up a little better, but we pulled it back together."

On physicality of the game
"We tried our hardest not to foul at the end and keep our hands up."

On the three straight road games
"We just have to stay focused on the game and help our bodies recover. Hopefully pull out wins in these next three games."

On Field Trip Day atmosphere
"That was actually pretty exciting. It was cool that all the kids, the high-pitched screams every time we scored. That was fun. I liked that."

They Said It | #45, Nyjah White 
On held momentum becoming preventing a comeback
"I remember they were cutting the lead, it was five. V (Vanessa Markert) took a charge, which was really big for us, because if they would've made that layup, they would've cut the lead to three. Our energy picked up right then and there. I'd say we just kept with it."

On Bradley out-rebounding Western Illinois by 21
"We definitely had some height over them, which was good."

On Chelsea Brackmann's back-to-back games with 10+ rebounds
"She's all over the place. I'm super proud of her for that, capitalizing off of that as well. It's really working for her."

On balanced scoring among starters
"I really love our starting lineup, as well as the whole team. We can all score, that way we can work the ball around. Anybody can shoot it or take it. It's a really good group we've got here."

On the nine day break until the three-game road stretch
"We've been at it for nearly weeks now, and tomorrow (Wednesday) we get our day off. I think we earned it. The recovery process is important for us. We've been doing very well with that."

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