Aloha from Carver Arena where we are 35 minutes from “Bradley-ISU 2.”
It’s no secret that “The War on 74” is a highlight of each Bradley season, but tonight’s matchup holds significance for a couple reasons that run deeper than the Versace-Donewald trash-talking of the 80s. Reason one: This game will knock one team out of the three-team tie for third place in the Missouri Valley Conference at 7-6. Reason two: Bradley is hosting its first-ever “Blackout,” giving away a black t-shirt to each member of what is expected to be close to a sell-out crowd here at Carver.
The Braves have a surprise up their sleeves for that crowd. Not only did they request that ISU wear its home white jerseys for tonight’s game, but Bradley came out sporting new warmups, which if my prediction is correct, is covering up some first-of-its-kind black uniforms. I guess we’ll see.
For ISU fans, it will be easy to remember what happened two Saturdays ago in Normal (a 19-point Redbird romp). But Bradley fans will have just as easy of a time recalling what happened here last year to the then-14-0 Redbirds (a 56-52 Bradley upset).
Well, with 15 minutes until game-time, nearly the entire Bradley student section is full and sporting their black shirts. Certainly the first time I’ve seen that this year. Maybe this will remind them that we have a basketball team at BU…
And…black uniforms it is. Whatever it takes to erase that schellacking. Note: I’m not going to make any “Men In Black” jokes in this blog.
Starters for tonight’s game are as follows: For the ‘Birds, it will be Dinma Odiakosa, Osiris Eldridge, Lloyd Phillips, Alex Rubin and Tony Lewis. For the Blacked-out Braves will be the usual cast of Andrew Warren, Sam Maniscalco, Will Egolf, Chris Roberts and Taylor Brown.
Egolf wins the tip and we’re off…
Maniscalco drives to the bucket and draws an Odiakosa goaltend for two. Quick hands in the passing lane disrupt the first ISU possession and TB capitalizes with a fallaway jumper for Bradley. Egolf blocks a Lewis layup, which leads to a Chris Roberts 3 and ISU coach Tim Jankovich calls timeout. Bradley 7, ISU 0. Can’t ask for a better start than that.
Odiakosa misses and Roberts does the same for BU. Eldridge comes up empty for 3 and Sammy slashes to the basket for two more Braves’ points. Osiris answers with a 3-ball. At the 15:27 timeout, it’s Bradley 9, ISU 3.
Odiakosa hits a pair of freebies after a Sam Singh foul. Austin Hill hits a 3 for the Redbirds after a great save and Maniscalco answers with a Bradley jumper.
Chris Roberts skies for a block on the ISU end, which leads to a 3-man Bradley fast break. Maniscalco to Dyricus Simms-Edwards, who goes behind the back to Jake Eastman, who is fouled hard from behind. Jake will have a pair of free throws coming after the 11:52 timeout. Bradley 11, ISU 8.
Eastman splits and ISU’s Jackie Carmichael drops a put-back for the ‘Birds. Egolf answers with a turnaround in the post for Bradley.
Carmichael brings ISU within two with a dunk, but Eastman answers with a runner in the lane. Good to see the Braves get some points inside since they were pretty deficient in that area last time around.
Singh can’t find the handle on a defensive rebound and Carmichael is there for another cleanup underneath.
Rubin misses his second jumper in a row and TB is fouled on the rebound by Kellen Thornton. At the 7:55 timeout, it’s Bradley by two, 18-16. ISU is shooting just 27 percent to start things off here (6-22).
Warren hits a jumper out of the timeout and Osiris misses a pair of free throws for the Redbirds. Egolf twists for a jumper and the ‘Birds come up empty, leading to a Warren jumper. Jankovich calles timeout down eight, 24-16. Warren drops another jumper out of the timeout and it’s Bradley by 10.
Tony Lewis hits a layup to stop the Bradley run, but Warren answers with a 3 for the Braves. Osiris drives past Roberts and is seemingly hammered on his ascent. The refs disagree and he’s called for a baseline out of bounds when he lands on his butt. At the 3:39 timout, it’s Bradley 29, ISU 18.
A Maniscalco offensive board leads to a Maniscalco trey, as Bradley stretches out to its largest lead of the night. Things continue to unravel for the ‘Birds as Austin Hill is whistled for a shot clock violation before he even knows what’s going on. Singh gives it back with a travel on the BU end and Hill answers back with a jumper.
Rubin knocks down an ISU 3 to make it a nine-point game. TB answers back with a 3 of his own. Lewis sinks a quick layup to end the half and it’s Bradley by a dime, 35-25.
A few quick stats: Bradley finished shooting 51.7 percent from the floor, ISU 34.5 (10-29). The Braves have only committed three turnovers and have four blocks, while the Birds lead the rebounding battle 18-16. ISU’s Dinma Odiakosa, who had 25 points in the last contest, finished the first half with just a pair of free throws.
Lloyd Phillips hits an ISU 3-pointer to start things off and TB answers with a runner in the lane. Rubin adds another triple for the Birds. Tony Lewis throws down a dunk to make it a very fast 8-2 run. Uh-oh.
Les calls for a timeout. It’s tough not to think back to the middle of the season, where Bradley blew four double-digit leads at home in a row.
TB misses a 3 out of the timeout and Odiakosa hits a putback to make it a two-point game. Maniscalco puts his head down on a drive to the bucket and somehow sinks the And-1 after being rocked by a pair of ISU defenders. He sinks the ensuing freebie for the 3-point play. Sammy leads all scorers with 12 points.
TB blocks an Osiris dunk attempt, leading to a beautiful DSE dish to Sam Singh underneath for two. TB slashes to the basket for another Bradley bucket and the Braves are back up nine.
Lewis draws a foul on the ISU end and hits a pair of free throws. Eldridge heads to the bench, carrying with him the thoughts of a 1-for-11 shooting night.
Maniscalco running in transition hits Egolf underneath with a no-look pass and Will finishes off the two-hand flush, prompting another Jankovich timeout. With 12:59 to play, it’s Bradley 47, ISU 47.
Roberts slaps away a steal, leading to a TB basket.
This just in: Osiris Eldridge has scored another basket. After scoring ISU’s opening points, the O-Man went 25 minutes and change without a bucket.
Roberts picks up another offensive board off a TB miss, which leads to a twisting and turning drive and lay by DSE. Roberts draws a foul on the ensuing possession and splits a pair of free throws to make it an 11-point contest. Eldridge answers back with a jumper and TB cancels it out with a jumper in the paint.
Eldridge with a steal and Carmichael puts two more on the board for the Redbirds. Odiakosa keeps the run going with a 3-point play. At the 7:49 timeout, it’s Bradley 54, ISU 48.
Austin Hill with a fancy up-and-under to get the Birds going out of the timeout. TB air-balls a 3 on the next Bradley possession. Hill keeps it rolling with an And-1. He sinks the free throw to make it a 1-point game. Warren misses an ill-advised jumper, but Maniscalco is there to keep it alive. But the Braves can’t convert second time around either, rebound ISU.
Egolf picks up his fourth foul and will head to the bench, replaced by Singh. Odiakosa splits the free throws to tie things up. Warren can’t come close with a drive to the basket and Phillips rebounds, taking it coast-to-coast, but his attack ends in a block from behind by TB.
DSE drives to the basket and he’s fouled by Osiris, his third. At the 3:18 timeout, we’ve got ourselves a ball game. Bradley 54, ISU 54.
Dyricus hits both without question, BU by two. Odiakosa does the same thing on the other end to knot it back up. DSE misses a jumper, but TB gets the rebound and draws a foul. He misses the front end of his one-and-one and here come the Redbirds. Odiakosahits a turnaround in the lane to give ISU its first lead of the game with 2:15 remaining.
Maniscalco hammers inside and somehow hits another running layup, but Austin Hill cancels it right back out. Sammy is clutch. He knocks down a 3-ball with 1:07 to play. He’s got 17.
It’s Bradley by one.
Carmichael puts in his own rebound to give ISU a one-point advantage and he gets a big block on Maniscalco on the other end. Timeout BU.
Maniscalco tries to get to the bucket as the shot clock expires, but can’t convert. Carmichael is instantly fouled and will go to the line for a one-and-one. He misses the first and here comes BU.
TB pulls up from the free throw line and he can’t hit. Odiakosa shooting free throws with 3.0 seconds to play.
Dinma misses, but Maniscalco can’t hit. ISU 62, Bradley 61.