The Braves had a bad sense of déjà vu in Terre Haute Saturday.
An undermanned Bradley men’s basketball team couldn’t overcome a slow start in the first half and foul trouble in the second in a 77-58 loss to Indiana State on the last game of the regular season.
The Sycamores scored the game’s first nine points and held a 15-3 lead over Bradley eight minutes into the game, who were without forward Luuk van Bree all game.
The Braves were able to claw the Sycamore lead down to 31-20 when Ronnie Suggs single handedly went on a 9-0 run for Bradley.
Suggs finished the game with 15 points, and shot 4-5 from the arc in the first half.
“Ronnie had one of his better halves shooting the ball on the year, and we needed that,” head coach Brian Wardle said. “We were in foul trouble right away.”
However, Bradley could not build on that momentum as Indiana State answered the Braves’ 9-0 run with a quick 50 second 6-0 run to go into halftime leading 37-28.
“Give Indiana State credit, they needed to win this game,” Wardle said. “They had that senior sense of urgency today, and their seniors really stepped up and played for [Indiana State head coach Greg Lansing].”
The second half wasn’t any kinder to the Braves, as the Sycamores furthered their lead in the early goings of the half with a 15-8 run spanning over six minutes.
“We weren’t ready to compete at that level today,” Wardle said. “[Indiana State] really set the tone early on us.”
Bradley finished the game shooting 43 percent from the field, but a dismal 25 percent from the 3-point line.
The low percentage from beyond the arc could be explained by the absence of van Bree, who was suspended for the first half of the game as punishment for being late to the team bus this morning but did not enter the second half due to illness.
In his place, fellow freshman Peter Hanley solidified the defensive end and earned praise from Wardle.
“He’s a star in his role,” Wardle said. “That’s a lesson hopefully guys see is he came to Bradley with zero expectation to ever be in a game, and he’s played this year because he knows his role.”
Hanley finished with six boards and two assists, but the Braves lack of a consistent offense did them in on the road.
“The competition in the ranks isn’t where it needs to be [in order] to be successful,” Wardle said. “It’s all about the effort level.”
The Braves finish the regular season with a 5-26 record, but match last year’s 3-15 conference record to lock into the ninth seed in the conference.
Drake University finished 10th, but beat Loyola-Chicago at home 69-59 to lock Loyola into the eighth seed in the conference.
With Loyola as the eighth seed, the Braves will face the Ramblers next Thursday in the first game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
That game will tip off at 6:05 p.m.