In a back-and-forth game that featured eight lead changes, active defenses and lackluster offenses, the Bradley women’s team came out on top by a score of 54-49, and took the first game of a three-game home stand.
The Braves, who move to 6-17 overall and 3-9 in Missouri Valley Conference play, had an offensive game to forget.
They shot 25 percent from the field in the first half and trailed by two at half time, before play- ing a tight defensive second half to come back and steal the win from Loyola.
“We played at a much bet- ter level,” said Coach Michael Brooks. “We got back to how we played last year, with getting out in the passing lanes, getting steals, which converted right into our transition layups.”
The Ramblers were stifled by the Braves’ defensive charge, and were held to 26 percent in the sec- ond half after shooting 38 percent in the first half.
The Braves, led by freshman Leti Lerma and junior Michelle Young, combined with the Ramblers to set a record for few- est points in Coliseum history.
“I thought we were in synch,” said Brooks. “It was a great day for us, probably our best defen- sive day for me since we’ve been here.”
Young made key plays for the Braves late in the second half, where she recorded all six of her points and her three steals.
“What we were really just focusing on was knocking down on defense,” said Young.
“Just getting in the passing lanes like we had been, rebounding.”
Lerma controlled the boards and recorded another Coliseum record with 19 rebounds and added 10 points to record her first collegiate double-double.
“She was awesome tonight,” Young said.
Behind Lerma’s rebounding dominance, Young sparked major momentum when she made a key steal and sank two quick bas- kets with 4:14 left, which gave the Braves the lead for good.
“She’s a catalyst for us,” said Brooks. “If she can play strong like that, especially after she’s had a rough night or a right night all around, then that’s big growth for her.”
The Braves remain at home and finish their home stand this weekend, playing Drake at 7 p.m. Friday and concluding the series against Northern Iowa at 2 p.m. Sunday.