The Bradley women’s basketball team suffered two tough losses when facing the top two teams in the Missouri Valley Conference this weekend on their trip to Iowa.
The Braves played against Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls last Friday, and managed to hold their own in the first quarter. However, eight turnovers spelled trouble for them in the second quarter, as they were outscored 13-0 during a seven-and-a-half minute stretch.
After shooting poorly from beyond the arc in the first half, the Panthers got off to a great start in the third and shot 6-7 in the quarter, allowing them to extend and hold their lead to beat Bradley 65-41.
Bradley was led by sophomore Danielle Brewer’s 11 points in the second half, but the rest of the team struggled to get in a rhythm offensively after exerting themselves on the defensive end.
“I thought we lacked a little bit of our discipline and intensity in the second half, especially on the defensive end,” head coach Michael Brooks said. “If you let them have too many open looks, at some, point they’re going to burn you, and they took advantage of us in that second half with our discipline.”
A similar story was on display the following Sunday afternoon when Bradley traveled to Des Moines to take on Drake.
The Braves stuck with the Bulldogs in the first quarter and were down only two points, but a ferocious 21-3 run by Drake in the second quarter padded their lead to 41-24 by halftime.
“Once we let a team go on a run, we’ve gotta be mentally tough to withstand that run,” Brooks said. “I like the shots that we took. Our shooters had great open threes. We were getting layups; we just couldn’t convert them.”
Sophomore Tamya Sims dropped in 12 points for the Braves, but as a team they only shot 27 percent from the field for the game. Drake, on the other hand, had five players in double figures and shot 47 percent in the game, including 19-23 from the charity stripe.
“They took it to us, and we did not step up to the challenge,” Brooks said. “I thought we played with them at times, but we didn’t play well enough to beat them. We’re not capitalizing on the opportunities that we get right now.”
The Braves were taken advantage of in almost every statistical category and lacked the mental toughness needed to come out with the win, falling to Drake 78-45. Although this weekend brought the hefty challenge of going on the road against two experienced, well-oiled teams, the Braves’ focus lies more on themselves than the teams they faced.
“The biggest competition in life is not someone else; it’s not another entity that is put up against you,” Brooks said. “Your biggest competition is yourself. It’s getting over your fears. It is getting over your mistakes. It’s getting over the things that block you from doing what you want to do. The confidence is within us, we’ve got to bring it out.”
The Braves hope to bring out that confidence in the regular season finale tonight when they visit Loyola-Chicago.