Thursday, December 20, 2018

NCAA honor for Bradley freshman Lasha Petree

Bradley's Lasha Petree smiles during an interview after a game against Southeast Missouri State on November 10th.
Peoria, Ill. - After the final buzzer went off, and Bradley (9-0) secured a 85-79 victory over Southeast Missouri State, the box score read that freshman Lasha Petree was the team's leading scorer with 24 points. Impressive on its own with no other details. However, that was also good for the most ever points by a Bradley freshman in their debut.

That was the first game of the year. Fast-forward to December 20th, and Petree is third in the country in points per game. Her 151 points are a team-high (16.8 ppg), and has the lead by eight points, with sophomore Gabi Haack (143 points / 15.9 ppg) following her.

In other words, it wasn't just that debut game. It's become a theme for Petree.

The 6'0" freshman from Arbor Prep in Ypsilanti, Michigan was a Miss Basketball finalist her senior year, averaging over 20 points per game.

After a run of being a key contributor to Bradley's efforts, Wednesday's game at Cleveland State proved different for Petree. A cold shooting start put her at 1-7 from the field at halftime.

That would continue, as the made field goals number would remain at one until the final offensive play for Bradley, and turns out, that's what the game came down to. With the game tied at 65 apiece, Petree fired up a jumper from just to the right of the free throw lane with roughly nine seconds left on the clock.

The shot would fall, a shot that would end up as the game-winner for the Braves. According to the final box score, Cleveland State led for 33:14. All that Bradley needed was to hold on for the final nine seconds after Petree's jumper and they did, a 67-65 final to be exact.

After all that, it's not the only things that have been going Petree's way this season. On November 12th, she was named the Missouri Valley Conference's Freshman of the Week. Then, just a couple of days ago, Petree became part of an exclusive club, that of only seven players over 16 seasons to be both Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week in the same week.

Yes, she's still not done. Announced yesterday, Petree was named to this week's NCAA Starting 5. This week's group includes Texas A&M sophomore Chennedy Carter, Iowa senior Megan Gustafson, Stanford senior Alanna Smith, and Cincinnati sophomore Iimar'i Thomas.

It's quite a bit of accolades for someone as new to the college game as Petree, but it's nowhere close to being done yet. The Braves still have 20 remaining regular season games.

If Petree were to average 16.9 points per game the rest of the way, she'd tie the all-time scoring record for a Bradley freshman, a record that's stood since Judy Burns scored 489 points in the 1981-1982 season. Keep in mind, that's just 0.1 ppg higher than Petree's current average. She is also roughly half way to equaling the freshman season scoring total of Bradley teammate Gabi Haack, who scored 327 points in her freshman campaign.

The Braves look to continue what's tied for the longest winning streak in program history when they travel to Purdue on Friday.

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