The women’s basketball team moved to a perfect 2-0 in exhibition play on Sunday as it rolled over visiting Truman State at Carver Arena.
Led by a dominating first-half from junior Skye Johnson, 12 points from freshman Michelle Lund and an inside game that looked much better than last week’s win over Lewis, the Braves rolled to an 83-35 victory over the Bulldogs.
Playing in her first exhibition game of the year, Johnson helped fuel a 23-0 run to start the game, scoring Bradley’s first seven points. Johnson eventually finished with 11 points, three assists, two steals and a block in 15 minutes on the floor.
Coach Paula Buscher said Johnson will be the player to set the tone for the team this year.
“She is a great player when she really gets aggressive and assertive, and that is what we need her to do,” she said. “She set the tone defensively, and then offensively she was able to attack the basket and take good looks. When she is in that mode, our team really rolls well.”
Johnson got the ball rolling for Bradley on a quick drive to the hoop. She was fouled on the drive but still made the basket and converted the free-throw for the 3-point play.
After striking first, the Braves never looked back as it went on to hit 18-of-31 shots from the field in the first half, as well as knock down 8-of-9 free-throws.
The Braves also received a solid performance in the paint with the addition of sophomore Sonya Harris.
“One of the nice things about our team this year is that we have the balance of very good perimeter players and a really good inside game,” Buscher said. “There have been years where we were good inside, and not as good outside, but that balance is nice to have.”
Also playing in her first exhibition game of the season, Harris made good use of the 16 minutes she spent on the court, grabbing 13 rebounds, 11 points and three blocked shots.
While things seemed to be clicking for the Braves, they were doing anything but for Truman State. The Bulldogs missed their first 16 shots from the field and failed to score until senior Georgia Mueller hit a jumper with 9:17 to play in the first half, making the Bradley lead 23-2.
Truman State played a slower game than Bradley, keeping the ball on the perimeter and winding the shot clock down on nearly every possession, but was unable to get many good looks inside thanks in part to strong defensive performances from Harris, senior Kelly Krumwiede and freshman Leah Kassing.
Even after a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Erin Mayes, the Bulldogs could only muster 11 first half points to Bradley’s 44. Mayes would go on to lead Truman State with 11 points.
The second half brought many of the same problems for Truman State, but also presented Bradley with a chance to give more playing time to new recruits.
“We have that nice balance of the inside game and the outside game, but we also have a great deal of depth coming off the bench,” Buscher said. “Games like this give those players some great experience. Getting out there, especially on the Civic Center’s floor, gives them a great feel for what the games are like.”
Freshman Lauren Niemiera clocked-in 13 minutes at the point guard position and racked up four points and five steals with Johnson spending the majority of the second half on the bench.
Freshman Hannah Muegge and senior Aseer Itiavkase also had nine points off the bench for the Braves, as they cruised to the easy victory.
Bradley will begin regular season play at 2:05 p.m. Saturday at Illinois Central College as the team takes on Loyola-Chicago.