Coming off of a hard fought win against Loyola Chicago, the Braves came into last weekend looking to end their three-game home stand with a winning record and confidence going into the last two weeks of the regular season. However, the Braves fell short, losing to Drake University 94-71, and to UNI, 81-77.
The losses dropped the Braves’ record to 6-19 and 3-11 in Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play and, more importantly, ended any potential shot for a MVC tournament seed. On Friday, the Braves took on the Drake Bulldogs, who were fourth in the MVC (12-12, 6-7).
The Bulldogs looked like anything but last place astook a 39-26 lead into half they set a Coliseum record for three-pointers with 15 and shot 52 percent from the perimeter.
That ended up being the Braves’ downfall, despite 17 points from Kelly Frings and 16 points from Alyson Spinas-Valanis, who shot a perfect 6-6 from the field. Coach Michael Brooks spoke very highly of Spinas-Valanis and her recent play.
“When Al wants to work, she can be one of the most dominant post players in our league,” Brooks said. “I think the problem is she has to consistently do that.”
Following the loss Friday, the Braves remained at home to face the second- ranked team in the MVC, the UNI Panthers.
The Panthers lead 12-6 at the first media timeout and time. The second half is when the Braves turned on the heat.
Trailing 45-32 with 17:28 to play in the game, the Braves went on a 26-14 run during the next 13 minutes to trail by only one with five minutes remaining.
“I thought the last 32 minutes of the game we played extremely hard,” Brooks said. ”We played harder than them, we wanted the game more than they did.”
But in the end, the hard fought comeback and a team high 17 points from Catie O’Leary wasn’t enough to lifthe Braves over the Panthers. O’Leary, who recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds, was one of four Braves who reached double figures in points against the Panthers. Spinas-Valanis, who was second on the team in scoring Sunday, scoring 16 points on 4-8 shooting, helped lead the second half charge.
“At that point, either you win it or you don’t,” Spinas-Valanis said. “It was one of those games that if you didn’t take care of it then they were just going to roll over you.”
With a chance to upset a conference opponent, Brooks said it was a matter of the small things
that the team needs to take advantage of to win.
“When we get out in pressure, we don’t care about who’s tired, don’t care who gets the credit, we can be pretty good,” Brooks said.
“But when we waver in those thought processes, we’re a very below average team.”