The squeak of sneakers hitting the hardwood means one thing to Peoria – Bradley basketball is back.
Although it was just an exhibition game, both the Braves and the Lewis University Flyers showed up last Sunday with intensity. The Braves muscled their way to a 68-63 victory over their Div. II opponent.
The first half belonged to the Flyers, who stormed off to a first half lead of 29-27.
Lewis shot 42.9 percent from the floor during the first half, besting the Braves’ total by 2 percent.
“Give them credit, they played well in the first half and executed offensively – we didn’t have the right intensity,” said junior Sam Maniscalco. “We realized at halftime that we weren’t doing the right things.”
But the second half marked a turnaround for the Braves. Junior Andrew Warren returned to a loud rotation for his first action in 20 months. He responded with 21 points and five rebounds.
“[Warren] played great,” Maniscalco said. “I think it was a big monkey off of his back.”
Sophomore Taylor Brown contributed high-energy play that led to 12 points and eight rebounds.
The Braves outscored the Flyers 41-34 in the second half to defeat Lewis for the victory, even though both teams shot an even 50 percent from the field.
The difference came at the free throw line, where the Braves shot 21-24, opposed to Lewis’ 5-for-13 performance at the charity stripe.
Most of Lewis’ scoring came from its backcourt, where guards Dennis Thomas Jr., and Chris McClellan scored 21 and 16 points respectively.
The Braves took the opportunity in the exhibition game to flex their depth by using 10 players for double-digit minutes including six players with more than 23 minutes.
“Our depth is one of our biggest assets, especially in conference,” Maniscalco said. “We want to be the freshest in February and March.”
After the final whistle, the Braves walked away with the victory, giving them a win in their only exhibition game this season.
The Braves travel to Provo, Utah, to play Brigham Young University in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley challenge tonight.