When a team gets to the point of playing as a cohesive unit instead of a group of individuals, they can have a good season.
When that team is stacked with young talent such as this year’s Braves, the team can be dangerous for many years to come.
This season, the women’s basketball team has only four upperclassmen, one more than there are freshmen on the team. One of these freshmen, Katie Yohn, is the current team leader in points scored with 158 total points as of Jan. 22.
All of the points scored by the Braves have come in handy as of late, with the defense playing better now than it has all season.
“We are playing much better defense,” said women’s basketball coach Paula Buscher. “The players have done a great job sticking to the game plan and have paid a great deal of attention to details on the scouting reports.”
The Braves started off the conference schedule by dropping their first two contests to Missouri State and Wichita State.
“We were a very young team at the beginning of the year, and I know we all believed we would keep getting better and never let our record have an impact on how we went about practicing and our approach to each day,” Buscher said. “Our attitudes have always been positive and I believe we are in the position we are now because of our belief in each other.
“We had some issues with turnovers earlier in the year and we know that was a key for us to succeed we needed to make better decisions on the offensive end.”
The Braves have turned their fortunes around, winning their last five games, all inside the Missouri Valley Conference, and it has all started with the defensive turnaround.
During the five-game winning streak, the Braves have scored an average of 69 points per game, while only allowing the opponents to score 56 ppg. One other improvement to their overall play has been lowering the number of turnovers per game.
Last Friday against Creighton (11-6 overall, 6-2 MVC), the Braves had their best defensive game since the 1992-93 season while committing a season-low 16 turnovers. Bradley held Creighton to less than 23 percent shooting, the best since holding Texas Southern to 20.6 percent in 1992.
“It has definitely been fun,” Buscher said. “This team really is unselfish and pulls for each other. We have had some adversity in our last two road wins, but they don’t let it bother them. They just keep playing hard and have the confidence to finish games.”
The most recent of the Braves’ five wins came against conference opponent Drake (11-7 overall, 4-4 MVC) in a back and forth contest. The game was neck-and-neck going into the last minute of the game, tied at 58. The Braves would be in control of the ball with less than a second and a half left to play when senior Sonya Harris banked in a 3-pointer to give the Braves the three point victory.
The victory would give the Braves the first road sweep of Creighton and Drake in program history and would give them sole possession of third place in the MVC.
“To stick with the teams above us we need to rebound and play defense,” Buscher said. “We have been a good rebounding team all year but need to keep that up and take pride in our defense and rebounding. It is a long season and there are a lot of games to be played. We need to keep working hard and continue to improve.”