Aloha from Carver Arena, where the Braves are 33 minutes away from trying to bounce back from Saturday’s 19-point trouncing at Illinois State.
The task will not be an easy one, as Bradley (10-11, 5-6 MVC) is set to take on a Drake team (11-12, 6-5) that is winners of six of its last seven, a stretch that included a 14-point victory over second-place Wichita State, a 10-point win over the Redbirds and an impressive win at Southern Illinois. The Bulldogs’ only loss in that stretch came at No. 22 Northern Iowa — not exactly a gimme.
Bradley, on the other hand, is looking to snap a two-game skid and avoid its fifth home loss of the season. BU is also hoping for a sighting of the hoopster formerly known as Chris Roberts, who has hit just 7-of-32 from the field in the last four games, averaging just six points.
This is not to say Bradley’s task tonight is impossible. The Braves had the ‘Dogs number the first time around, picking up a 67-59 win in the conference opener at Des Moines, which lead to a four-game Drake losing streak. But apart from that, there aren’t a ton of positives from last week to bank on. But to echo the mantra of the rest of the season: “Maybe tonight will be the night Bradley figures it out.”
Starting for the Bulldogs: Ryan Wedel, Josh Young, Adam Templeton, Seth VanDeest and the pride of Luxembourg City Frank Wiseler. Taking the tip for Bradley, despite whispers of shakeups, will be the usual crew of Sam Maniscalco, Chris Roberts, Will Egolf, Taylor Brown and Andrew Warren. After a schellacking like Saturday’s it would be nice to see the Braves put together an explosive start to get the smaller-than-average crowd into it.
Will wins the tip and misses a jumper to start, but a backcourt violation gives the ball back to BU. Here we go…Roberts hits nothing but net from 3 to get the ball rolling. Templeton with a drive to answer.
Warren hits another Bradley triple. This is a promising start for a team that started the last game 1-14 from the field.
The freshman VanDeest hits a baseline jumper, but TWO offensive rebounds by Sam Singh sets up a TB jumpshot to make it 8-4 Bradley.
The Bulldogs grab a ridiculously uncontested offensive rebound to set up a Wedel 3 and TB loses the handle on the other end, leading to a Wedel layup.
Another jumper from VanDeest and it’s 11-10 Drake. Now into the game for the Braves is Dyricus Simms-Edwards.
Warren with a putback 2, but Wedel answers with a quick jumper of his own. DSE with a nice take and finish and he backs it up with a defensive board and a 3-pointer. Can’t ask for more than that.
Maniscalco slashes to the bucket for two and the Bulldogs turn it over on the other end. Ben Simons, now in for Drake, pops a wing 3 and Warren answers with a 15-footer for BU.
A collective “Wow” just fluttered about the arena as Josh Young converted one of the more difficult up-and-unders I’ve seen in a while.
At the 11:32 timeout, it’s Bradley 21, Drake 18.
Maniscalco hits a 12-footer and Jake Eastman checks in for the Braves. Wedel grabs an ORB and hits a layup for two — his ninth points of the game. TB splits a pair of freethrows and Wedel drives to the basket to answer for Drake. Maniscalco misses a trey, but Egolf is there to clean it up.
Eastman is fouled on a drive and he splits his freebies. Wedel scores again for Drake on a slash to the basket. BU hasn’t had much presence in the paint thus far, allowing the Bulldogs to enter at will.
Wedel with a long two for his 15th points and TB misses a 3-pointer on the Bradley end.
DSE makes it 30-26 with a jumper and Young is whistled for a carry, signaling the 7:01 timeout.
Roberts misses a layup out of the timout and Drake takes advantage as Young is hacked on the way to the basket, converting the layup and free throw for a 3-point-play.
Maniscalco misses the front end of a one-and-one, making the Braves just 3-of-7 for the night. TB quickly improves that percentage, dropping a pair.
Young leaves the court with a limp after some tough on-ball defense by Roberts. Nice defensive stand by Bradley, but Warren quickly turns it over on the Braves’ end. Roberts skies for a block on the next Drake possession, but the Braves come up empty.
At the final officials’ timeout of the half, it’s Bradley by three, 32-29.
Side note tonight: Nearly all of the lower bowl portion of section 6 (to the left of the Bradley band) is empty tonight. I’ll be optimistic and say the students are staying home for the premier of “Lost,” and not because of the 10-11 record…
Aaron Hawley pulls the Bulldogs within one with a pair of freethrows and the Braves again turn it over on their turn. Templeton puts Drake up one with a layup, but Egolf answers with a putback.
Another Drake jumper makes it 35-34, but Maniscalco hits a 3 to give the lead back to Bradley. Taylor Brown drops a 15-footer and Hawley misses a turnaround on the other end.
Maniscalco holds for the last shot of the half and buries a 3-pointer to close things out. At the break, it’s Bradley 42, Drake 35.
A few mid-point notes: Maniscalco topped 1,000 career points with his first 3-pointer. He has 12 points to lead the Braves, while Wedel has 15 to pace Drake.
Three quick fouls and no baskets to start the half for the Braves, as Young knocks down a pair of free throws. Wiseler drives to the basket for two and Bradley comes up empty on their end. Templeton makes it a 6-0 start with a turnaround in the post and Warren misses a 3 to continue the BU drought.
Egolf picks up his third foul and heads to the bench. TB throws it away for Bradley but hustles for a block on the other end. After the outlet winds up with DSE, it’s worked back to Taylor, who is fouled and hits a pair of free throws.
A Sam Singh steal leads to another careless turnover, this one by Warren. Sloppy start, boys. At the 15:46 break, it’s Bradley by 3, 44-41.
Templeton comes out of the timeout with a layup to cut the lead to one, but Roberts answers with a 3-ball from the right wing. A nice DSE steal leads to another Warren turnover and Templeton layup. ANOTHER BU turnover, but DSE answers with ANOTHER steal of his own, which leads to a fast-break And 1 for Maniscalco, who can’t hit the free throw.
Good ball movement against the Drake zone leads to another Roberts trey. After a Hawley miss, Dyricus grabs a board, pushes it up and hits TB with a no-look pass, leading to a layup and Drake timeout. One positive observation of this season: when Dyricus Simms-Edwards is involved in a play, it’s usually a good result for Bradley.
That’s a nine-point lead for BU with 11:25 to play.
VanDeest ends the Bradley run with a turnaround in the lane and DSE is whistled for a carry. As my colleague and former boss Doc Watson of 96.5 ESPN Radio noticed, that might be his only weakness. Gotta keep that ball down.
Warren airballs a 3-point attempt from the corner and Young shows him how it’s done on the Drake end. Eastman back in for Bradley, replacing DSE.
At the 7:55 timeout, it’s Bradley by four, 54-50.
Maniscalco continues to uncharacteristically struggle at the line, splitting a pair. A nice tip-out for an offensive rebound by Singh, who is really stringing together a nice game. Young drops another 3-pointer and it’s back to a two-point game. Maniscalco steps into the lane as the shot clock ticks away and hits a jumper to allow the Braves to breathe a little easier. Coach Les takes timeout with 5:40 to play. Each team has three remaining.
VanDeest hits another bucket inside for his eighth points. Maniscalco drops another inside the paint and Warren steals the Drake inbound, leading to a pair of TB free throws. Bradley by six.
Dyricus is whistled for a foul on Young, who will head to the line after the 3:55 timeout. Bradley 61, Drake 55.
Young hits ’em both and TB misses a top-of-the-key 3 for Bradley. No damage done as Simons misses for Drake. Warren continues to struggle and air balls another triple. Young heads back to the line and hits two more, making it 61-59 Bradley.
Maniscalco hits another 15-footer to gives the Braves some cushion and Warren is whistled for a block under the basket as Mr. Automatic, Josh Young, heads back to the line and hits both for his 18th and 19th points.
Roberts misses a pair of bunnies inside, which doesn’t bode well as VanDeest heads to the line with a chance to tie. He splits and Maniscalco takes it across the timeline to take a full timeout.
With 59.6 remaining, it’s Bradley by a nose, 63-62. Coulda used a few of those free throws in the first half.
Maniscalco misses a 3, but Egolf lunges past the Drake defense for a tip-in. As soon as the Bradley faithful can rise to it’s feet, Templeton drops a 3 to tie it.
But wait!! Maniscalco misses a 3, but Egolf…falling away from the basket chucks up a desperation jumper and hits nothing but net with 1.1 seconds left for the win. Phew!