Originally published November 19, 2010
After playing two games in as many days, the Braves emerged victorious from a scrappy fight against Loyola Marymount University, 59-57. This closed out the Carver Arena part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.
The Braves tallied their 21st consecutive home victory in November and their first 3-0 start since the 2006-07 season – the last time the team made the NCAA Tournament.
“With the limited numbers that we have and some guys who are walking wounded, we talked about playing a lot of zone early and trying to buy some time,” coach Jim Les said. “Trying to slow them down a little bit and forcing them to be a perimeter team.”
Facing a deficit heading into the final stretch, the Braves had to battle back against LMU.
“We talked about getting to the 10-minute mark,” Les said. “We were going to our ‘20 defense’ and gut ourselves out another win. We have to be the gutsiest, scrappiest, toughest team especially in our building.”
Shooting 30 percent from the floor, including 21 percent from behind the arc wouldn’t normally add up to a Bradley victory.
“That’s not part of the recipe,” Les said. “Defending makes up for a lot of mistakes and miscues, and when we had to have the stops and we had to have the rebounds, we did. That’s a great sign of the character of this team and the resiliency.”
Seniors Sam Maniscalco and Dodie Dunson led the Braves in scoring with 14 and 10 points respectively.
Junior Anthony Thompson came off the bench to lead the Braves on the glass with seven boards.
But the most surprising statistic came from an unlikely source, sophomore Milos Knezevic, who led the team with three charges off the pine.
“I sprinted back, coach told us this was a fast-breaking team,” he said. “So I made sure after we missed a shot to get back on D, and I just tried to find a guy who’s was tripling and got in front of him and got set.”
Coming into the game, LMU was averaging just a little less than 50 rebounds a game, and the Lions reached that total on the evening.
“In some respects, I’m putting guys in a bad positions,” Les said. “Because the matchups aren’t always favorable to rebounding in terms of the physical lineups they can put out on the floor and we’re asking our guards do a lot of rebounding.”
The Braves now look to the final rounds of the tournament in Springfield, Mass.
Their first game is on Saturday against the University of Southern California and the final game is Sunday against TCU.