Women lose two heartbreakers

Junior Dani Brewer shoots over the SIU defense earlier in the season. photo by Justin Limoges
Junior Dani Brewer shoots over the SIU defense earlier in the season. photo by Justin Limoges
Junior Dani Brewer shoots over the SIU defense earlier in the season.
photo by Justin Limoges

After a strong stretch of games by the Bradley women’s basketball team, the Braves now find themselves in the midst of a three-game losing streak.

Bradley fell to Southern Illinois on Sunday afternoon, 69-63, a game in which the team shot 48 percent from the free throw line (11-23).

The Braves have struggled at the free throw line for most of the season. Head coach Andrea Gorski described the problems from the charity stripe bluntly.

“We can’t spend any more time on free throws than we do,” Gorski said. “The kids work on them, shoot hundreds of them during the week, getting ready. It’s just a mental thing. We’ve just got to be able to step up and make some free throws.”

Senior forward Leti Lerma highlighted Sunday’s game as she became the all-time leading rebounder in school history by grabbing her 800th rebound early in the contest.

Lerma said she knows the accomplishment was due to the effort she put into the game.

“It’s just a record to me,” Lerma said. “It shows that hard work pays off, but at the end of the day, it’s just another record … Rebounding isn’t really about size, it’s not about how athletic you are, it’s really just how hard you work at the end of the day.”

On Friday, the Braves were handed a deflating loss at the hands of Evansville, 73-71. Bradley trailed by three with 16 seconds left when junior guard Danielle Brewer nailed a three from the corner to tie the game.

The tie was short-lived, however, when the Aces ran a backdoor play for Camary Williams that ended with a last-second layup to sink the Braves.

“We probably denied a little too hard on Williams,” Gorski said. “She’s really fast, and you can’t really deny her the ball … We were going to switch screens and try to force them into a tough shot and then box out. Alona [Johnson] is a very aggressive defensive player, so it’s hard for her to let someone catch, but that’s a senior making a big play on a freshman.”

Even with the three straight losses, the Braves still have a shot at the six seed in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. They will wrap up their regular season when they host Illinois State at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

“[We’ve] got to contain their guards,” Gorski said. “They’re a pretty athletic team, and those are the teams we’ve struggled with … We did a decent job containing their guards the last time we played them, but then their posts had a big game against us … I think as a defensive team, we’ve shored some things up [since we last played them].”