Greetings from Carver Arena, where we are about 20 minutes from the tipoff between Bradley and visiting Missouri State. Both teams are only in their shootaround, but one thing instantly stands out — Eddren McCain seems to be sporting a classic high fade reminiscent of 1991.
Perhaps this new hairdo is the sophomore guard’s way of coping with Tuesday’s game against Northern Iowa, where he clocked zero minutes for the first time in his 52 games at Bradley.
All eyes will be on Mo. St. sophomore Kyle Weems (15.8 points per game) tonight, who burned the Braves for 30 points last Saturday when the two teams met at JQH Arena. The 6-6 forward scored 24 if of his team’s first 29 points to lead the Bears to a 88-69 trouncing of the Braves.
Both teams are coming off losses, Bradley (7-9, 2-4 MVC) at league-leading Northern Iowa, and Missouri State (13-4, 3-3) at Drake, 88-77.
The Braves were able to hold on to beat Indiana State in overtime the last time they took the floor here at Carver, but it’s no secret that Bradley has given new meaning to the word “homesick” this year, blowing double-digit leads in losses to Western Carolina, Loyola-Chicago and Southern Illinois. We’ll see today if their gutsy showing against the punishing Panthers at Cedar Falls has finally instilled some of the toughness that head coach Jim Les has been looking for this season.
Starting for the Bears tonight, it’s going to be Weems, Justin Fuehrmeyer, Adam Leonard, Jermain Mallett and Will Creekmore, while the typical cast of Brown, Andrew Warren, Sam Maniscalco, Will Egolf and Chris Roberts will take the court for Les.
Creekmore wins the tip and Leonard drops a 3 to start things off, while TB hits a baby jumper on the other end for Bradley. Creekmore splits a pair of freethrows after another Brown bucket.
Weems has zero touches on the first four Mo. State possessions, as Bradley leads 7-4 on a tough Roberts putback.
McCain and 6th-year senior Sam Singh check in for the Braves at the first media timeout. Time to see that new haircut in action.
Warren hits a baseline jumper out of the timeout and Singh forces a bobble and turnover on the other end. TB drops a 3-pointer from the corner and Bradley leads 12-4. Weems heads to the bench after getting only one touch, a swing pass at the top of the key.
McCain hits Brown with a nice look under the bucket and Taylor is fouled. He sinks both as Washington H.S. grad Dyricus Simms-Edwards replaces a hard-working Chris Roberts.
Another Bears’ turnover, but Bradley is unable to capitalize as Warren is whistled for a travel after a nice offensive board by McCain.
Caleb Patterson finally ends the Bears’ scoring drought with a baseline jumper. At the 11:52 timeout, it’s 14-7 BU.
Side note: I’ve never seen anyone dunk the “layup” portion of the Buffalo Wild Wings Challenge, but Zach McCallister just showed everyone here that it’s possible. He wasn’t able to hit the half-courter to win everyone free wings though.
Nafis Ricks and Maniscalco trade baskets out of the timeout and Weems is back off the bench awaiting a deadball. DSE with a nice look inside to Egolf, who makes it 20-11 BU.
Dyricus hits Egolf again with a nice pass, but unfortunately, Weems is back in the game and sends Will’s shot into the seats.
Former redshirt freshman Jake Eastman replaces DSE and Weems misses his second in a row. Make that third in a row as he shorts a 3-ball from the corner. Taylor Brown hits for Bradley in transition and Cuonzo Martin is forced to call his first timeout with 8:04 to play. Brown has already racked up 12 points for the Braves, while Egolf has six.
At the 7:52 timeout, Bradley is killing on the boards as well, 15-6, including six ORBs. When things have been good this season, they have been really good, but all I will say is that it’s still very early. Especially if you’ve been to the last four home games.
Weems drops his first basket of the game after a graceful little dash to the hoop by Maniscalco results in his third and fourth points.
Warren picks up his second foul as DSE returns. Leonard hits his second 3-pointer and Dyricus turns it over on the BU end. After Singh airballs a post move, DSE keeps the ball on the Bradley end with a hustle play to draw a foul, setting up a nice cut to the rim by Roberts. After an ugly miss by Patterson in the paint, a Maniscalco 3-ball makes it 34-18 with just under five minutes to play.
Just a note: if Bradley finds itself in a situation where they need to foul later in the game, it seems like a good idea to go afte Caleb Patterson, who — to put it courteously — seems to be missing his touch. He has badly missed two bunnies in the lane and he just shanked a free throw the way a fan in a halftime contest might.
But, of course, he rattles the second one home.
McCain completes a nice drive to the basket, but Isiah Rhine negates it on the other end. Simms-Edwards draws Weems’ first foul and P.A. Announcer Paul Herzog has reminded the crowd that the ZOO-perstars, the inflatable mock celebrities will be the halftime entertainment. Just a guess, but we probably won’t see Shark McGwire or Tiger Woodchuck for a while…
McCain spins inside for another basket and Les uses his first timeout of the half with 34.6 seconds remaining. Bradley 38, Mo. State 23.
The referees leave the court to a chorus of boos after Egolf was seemingly hacked in a buzzer beating attempt.
Taking the floor for the ZOOperstars are LeBronco James, Alex Frogriguez and Yao Flamingo. I’m sure hilarity will ensue, but I’m going to grab some halftime stats in the media room.
After the ZOOperstars’ performance, Bradley inducted three more members into its Athletic Hall of Fame. The inductees were former baseballer Nelson Correa, soccer player Jim Rasmussen and the voice of Bradley hoops, Mr. Dave Snell, who recieved a standing O from the Carver faithful. I can’t think of a more deserving fella than Mr. Snell, who has called more than 900 consecutive Bradley radio broadcasts for 1470 WMBD.
As for the game, I wish I could say a 15-point Bradley lead was enough to put it in the books, but judging by what we’ve seen so far this season, fans better stick around.
Chris Roberts hits a 3-ball from the right wing to get things started for the Braves and Jermaine Mallet answers with a paint bucket for the Bears.
Weems scores his second basket of the game and Egolf comes right back with his fifth. Leonard drops his third 3-pointer of the game and Weems hits a
3-pointer to make it 47-33. Roberts comes back with a 3 of his own and Les takes his signature “made 3 timeout” with his boys up 17.
That 3 gives Roberts 10 for the game, making him the third Brave in double figures, joining Brown (12) and Egolf (10). Leonard leads Mo. State with nine, while Weems has seven.
As if things couldn’t be going any better for Bradley fans… Mackerel Jordan of the ZOOperstars just made his way out on the floor during the 15:01 media timeout to dance to Weird Al Yankovic’s “Eat It.” What a day to be alive!!
Patterson drops a layup and Maniscalco draws a foul on the BU end. That foul was long overdue, according to the Bradley faithful who have been make some suggestions to the refs. The Bradley bench is given a warning and then a technical after some “physical frustration” following a Sam Singh miss. To be fair, you can’t fault whoever threw that water bottle on the floor…DSE hit Singh with the most beautiful pass of the day and the big man from Ozark, Mo. missed an uncontested layup. Leonard makes both freethrows for the Bears.
After a bucket by DSE, the Braves lead 54-37 at the 11:54 media timeout.
A good sign for the Braves, any double-digit leads in the previous home losses have been blown by now. Maybe they are over this “homesickness?”
Leonard sinks another 3-ball and Bradley is called for its second travel in a row (Warren, Roberts). DSE finishes a nice drive to the bucket for two and Leonard misses at the other end. TB hits a pair of freebies after Weems picks up his second foul.
Warren hits a 3-pointer for Bradley, who has stretched out to its largest lead of the game, 61-42. Eastman takes a hard foul trying to convert under the basket and splits his freethrows. Ryan Jehle gets on the scoring chart for the Bears and Egolf adds some more points in the paint before Weems hits anothr 3-pointer.
At the 7:28 timeout, it’s Bradley 64, Mo. State 48. Maniscalco has also joined the double-digit ranks with 11 points.
Leonard sinks his fifth 3-ball and Sammy replaces Eastman. Roberts swats away a Mo. State jumper and fights to get the rebound he created. TB gets a hotly contested ORB on the Bradley possession, setting up a sweet no-look pass from Roberts back to Brown under the basket for two. Say what you want, but the more Chris Roberts is involved, the better things are for Bradley basketball.
A few fans are starting to file out at the 3:51 timeout, but this time that’s good news for the Braves, who lead 68-51 and are on their way to climbing one game closer to .500 at 8-9 and 3-4 in the Valley.
Weems misses a 3-ball and DSE finds Egolf underneath on the next BU possession. Mo. St. throws it away and I think it’s only a matter of time before the walk-ons start checking in.
Warren grabs an offensive board on a Roberts miss and he’s fouled, dropping both freethrows to put Bradley up 21, 72-51, and grab his 10th and 11th points
.Here comes the line change for BU as Milos Knezevic, Anthony Thompson, Ryan Phillips, McCain and Eastman check in.
They run out the clock and Bradley wins it 74-56.