ST. LOUIS – After a competitive first half, the men’s basketball team was unable to keep up with Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinals on Saturday afternoon, falling 76-62.
The game was tied at 32 after the first half, but UNI got a quick start to the second period and the Braves were never able to catch up.
“I thought Northern Iowa played very well and they were the better team tonight,” coach Jim Les said. “We didn’t play very well.
The game was a tale of two halves.
In the first half, the Braves’ defense didn’t allow the Panthers to connect from long range, and UNI was just 8-for-13 from the charity stripe.
Meanwhile, Bradley shot a perfect 11-of-11 from the line and knocked down the 3-pointers.
In the second half, Northern Iowa hit four 3-point shots and went 16-for-17 from the free-throw line, not allowing the Braves to mount a comeback.
“In the first, we were able to withstand their runs by answering with some of our own,” junior Chris Roberts said. “In the second half, we let them build momentum, hit some threes and we were not able to answer. The ball was not falling for us during the second half.”
Senior Theron Wilson, who may have played his final game in a Bradley uniform, said it was difficult to stop the UNI runs once they started.
“I mean in the second half they just kind of came out and had that look in their eye that they wanted it, and they got it going,” he said.
One positive that came out of the weekend was the free-throw shooting of sophomore Sam Maniscalco.
His 18-for-18 shooting from the line is a new MVC Tournament record for free-throws shot without a miss.
Although the hopes of making the NCAA Tournament have all but ended, there is still a chance the Braves can play in a post-season tournament.
Coach Jim Les said he is hopeful that Bradley can participate in post-season play.
“I would like for David [Collins] and for Theron [Wilson] and for B-Lav [Brian Lavin] to be able to put the jersey on,” he said. “I know when you get to this point in the season, it’s an abrupt end, unfortunately, and I think those guys are hungry and want to fulfill their desire to play in the post-season.”