ST. LOUIS – For the second time in as many years Bradley was routed by the top-seeded Northern Iowa Panthers in the semi-finals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament in St. Louis.
The Braves never led and trailed by as many as 24 points, losing to Northern Iowa 57-40.
Bradley and Northern Iowa split their two regular season games with both teams winning at home, but the Panthers beat the Braves when it counted most.
Bradley only managed 40 points against the league’s best defensive team.
“I think initially we had some impatience offensively which plays into a good defensive team’s hands,” Bradley head coach Jim Les said. “Their defense is awfully good. It speeds you up.”
After his 31-point game against Creighton in the league quarter-finals, Junior guard Sam Maniscalco scored 10 points and junior guard Andrew Warren scored a game high 12 points.
The Panthers began the game on a 19-6 run and led by 17 points at halftime. Bradley held Northern Iowa scoreless for over five minutes to begin the second half, but they never got closer than 13 points in that stretch. Bradley missed four easy baskets that would have cut the game to single digits.
“We just couldn’t complete some of those point blank shots,” Les said. “I wish I could explain it, but it almost seemed like there was a lid on the basket.”
After an emotional blowout win over Creighton, the Braves appeared to be out of gas. However, Les downplayed the notion.
“You know, we might have been a little low on energy,” Les said. “But I don’t want to make excuses other than that was an awfully good basketball team, and we were going to have to play well to win, and we didn’t.”
The loss could be the last game the Braves play this season, though there is a chance Bradley could be invited to compete in the College Insider Tournament or the College Basketball Invitational.
Two years ago the Braves finished 2nd in the CBI and last year they were the runner up in the CIT.
Les said no decision has been made on whether the Braves will accept the chance to play in one of those tournaments if invited this year.
“After this weekend, I’m sure (athletic director) Dr. Cross, President Glasser and I will sit down and talk about what’s best for the university and the basketball program.”