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Top 5 BU sports stories of 2008-09

Men’s basketball reaches CIT
The men’s basketball reached the postseason for the fourth consecutive year this season by picking up the No. 1 seed in the inaugural CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
The top spot allowed Bradley to host all four of its games at Carver Arena, giving fans a chance to see this year’s squad a few more times.
Obviously, the Braves’ participation in this tournament will forever go down as the time junior Chris Roberts hit the shot from his own free throw line to win the game, but is was more than that.
Bradley got the chance to extend its season, getting players extra work and allowing the seniors to have an extra go-around.
Obviously, this was not the tournament the Braves were hoping for, but the CIT was full of excitement and most involved were happy with the way it turned out.
The finals were televised nationally on Fox College Sports, which allowed the team to gain some national attention.
All these factors could figure into the success of the team in the years to come.
Women’s basketball records best season in program history
After a 12-18 year and playing all of its home games on the road at Illinois Central College, the women’s basketball team recorded 22 wins on its way to the best season in the history of the program.
While women’s basketball may go somewhat unnoticed at Bradley, being overshadowed by the men’s team, the Missouri Valley Conference was certainly aware of the women’s dominance this season.
Senior Monica Rogers was named first-team All-MVC, sophomore Sonya Harris was second-team All-MVC and on the All-Defensive team and senior Skye Johnson was All-MVC honorable mention and a member of the All-Defensive team.
Not to mention coach Paula Buscher, the mastermind behind the team’s success, was named MVC Coach of the Year.
After the regular season accolades came in, the Braves took down Indiana State in the first round of the MVC Tourney, and avoided facing the rival Redbirds in the second round, as they were upset by Evansville.
The Braves then squared off against the No. 9 seeded Purple Aces, and saw a 20-point lead slip away as their historic season came to an end.
Ashley Birdsong breaks strikeout record
After striking out 150-plus batters in each of her four seasons on the Hilltop, senior Ashley Birdsong broke the Bradley career strikeout record earlier this season.
On March 15, Birdsong pitched eight scoreless innings, striking out nine, against Illinois State to pick up a 2-0 win and break the record.
She passed Beth Hawkins who struck out 702 batters from 1984-87.
Birdsong has led the softball team in wins each of her first three seasons on the Hilltop, and currently sits atop the leader board this season.
This year, Birdsong has 162 strikeouts, which is more than twice the next person on the team.
The team leans on Birdsong and she will be looked upon to take the circle when the softball team hosts the MVC Tourney at the beginning of May.
Bradley hosts inaugural Danny Dahlquist Memorial Game
The Bradley soccer team hosted Notre Dame earlier the spring in honor of their fallen teammate, Danny Dahlquist.
The game was the first in what the athletic department hopes will be an annual event.
About 1,500 fans attended the game at Shea Stadium, with the benefits going toward the Danny Dahlquist Memorial Fund.
Tickets for the game were $5, and donations were accepted at the event.
Fans were able to participate in the “Friends of Danny” scrimmage game after the Braves’ match-up.
Bradley lost the game 1-0, but coach Jim DeRose said he was still happy with the outcome, and that the game took place.
Nowak breaks records
Junior Katie Nowak started the track and field season hot.
She opened the indoor season with a one mile time of 5:01.01, beating her career best by more than two seconds.
Nowak then won her second title of the indoor season by taking the 1,000 meter run at the Panther Open at Northern Iowa.
But those two races proved to be warm-ups for Nowak.
In her next meet, Nowak broke the Bradley record for the indoor mile at Iowa State with a time of 4:50.88, shaving almost 10 seconds off her run to start the season.
The next weekend in South Bend, Ind., Nowak ran the 1,000 meter in a time of 2:52.51, earning herself another Bradley record.
The top five for 2008-09 were selected by the Bradley Scout sports desk.