Led by a strong start offensively and conclusive execution at the free throw line, the Bradley men’s basketball team picked up its second Missouri Valley Conference win against Indiana State Saturday.
“The Braves (4-21, 2-10) were led by sophomore and freshman forwards Donte Thomas Luuk van Bree, who poured in 18 and 15 points, respectively
Bradley got off to a fast start in the first half and held a 33-23 lead going into halftime. However, their lead disappeared late in the second half.
“We didn’t play great in the second half, but we played hard,” head coach Brian Wardle said. “We competed and we played with toughness, and that’s what it takes.”
When Bradley’s offense slowed down in the second half, the defense stepped up. The Braves threw in full court pressure at times, and forced the Sycamores into 19 turnovers.
“Playing defense is a pride thing,” senior guard Ka’Darryl Bell said. “We want to be the most ‘together’ team in the Valley.”
The Braves only shot 65 percent from the line in the game, but down the stretch they managed to make the ones that mattered, putting in eight straight. That allowed them to hold on for their first win in six conference games in front of an audience of 6,028.
“Everyone had their opportunity to step up, and they all did,” Wardle said. “It’s good to get a win, especially at home in front of this crowd that’s been so loyal this year.”
Thomas finished with a team-high 18 points on seven of 13 shooting, and also grabbed five rebounds. He attacked the Indiana State defense by slipping through screens and finishing at the rim, as well as playing one of his best games of the season on the defensive end.
“Winning always feels good,” Thomas said. “Hopefully we keep fighting in February and pull off some more.”
Bradley will host Loyola (Chicago) Wednesday at 7 p.m.