Cold-shooting second half leads to Braves' loss to
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PEORIA -- Seventh-year Bradley
women's basketball head coach Paula Buscher was pleased with her
team's defensive effort, calling it probably the best defensive game
of the season, but the Braves scored a season-low 41 points and shot
22.6 percent from the field in a 57-41 loss to Illinois on Thursday
night at Robertson Memorial Field House.
Despite shooting just 29.6 percent in the first half, Bradley held a
21-18 lead at the break, thanks in part to a stingy defense that
held the Illini to 21.4 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes.
The second half was a different story as Illinois managed to score
39 points and the Braves missed the first 17 shots of the period en
route to a 17.1 field goal percentage (6-for-35) in the half.
Bradley (4-7 overall) trailed 12-11 after an Amy Peters basket with
11:40 but would go scoreless over the next 6:30 of play. Illinois
failed to capitalize on the Braves' offensive woes, scoring just
four points during the BU drought. Bradley closed the half with a
9-2 run that included a 3-point play by sophomore Kelly Krumwiede
and a pair of Devyn Flanagan buckets in the final 1:40 as the Braves
took a 21-18 lead at the break.
The Illini (10-2 overall) scored the first seven points of the
second half to take a 25-21 lead as Bradley went scoreless for the
first 4:29 to open the half. With Bradley trailing by two points,
Illinois used a 12-1 run that included a pair of baskets from both
Chelsea Gordon and Erin Wigley to take a 39-26 lead with 8:57
remaining, all before the Braves connected on one field goal.
The Braves missed their first 17 shots of the second half, before
Jen Brown's runner in the lane with 8:31 to play and a Felicia
Nekmouche basket cut the Illini lead to 39-30. Lori Bjork scored
seven consecutive points for Illinois during a 9-2 Illini spurt that
extended the Illinois lead to 16 points (48-32) with 4:05 to play.
Bradley cut the deficit to 11 points on a Devyn Flanagan 3-pointer
with 2:49 remaining, but Illinois would score seven of the final
nine points of the game to put the finishing touches on a 57-41
victory over the Braves.
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Bradley shot 17.1 percent from the field in the second half
(6-for-35) and finished the night with a 22.6 field goal percentage.
The Braves tied a season low with two 3-pointers and shot just 13.3
percent (2-for-15) from the beyond the arc. Flanagan was the only
Bradley player to connect on more than two field goal attempts,
hitting 6-of-18, and finished with a team-best 14 points. Senior
Erika Nelson battled foul trouble a good part of the game and
finished with seven points, while fellow senior Amy Peters added six
points and six rebounds off the bench.
Illinois had three players reach double figures, paced by Bjork's
game-high 16 points. Danyel Crutcher had 11 points to go along with
her game-high 15 rebounds, while Jenna Smith was also in double
figures with 11 points. Bradley held the Illini to less than 60 for
just the third time this season, but Illinois entered the game
surrendering just 56.4 points per game and held the Braves to their
lowest point total since a 36-point effort at Missouri State on Feb.
Bradley finished the nonconference portion of the schedule with a
4-7 record and will open Missouri Valley Conference play with three
consecutive road games beginning Dec. 29 at Northern Iowa at 7:05
p.m. in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
University athletics news release]