Women skid over break

Senior Michelle Young drives toward the hoop during Bradley’s loss to Western Illinois last December. Young tallied seven points in the Braves’ win over Loyola. Photo by Dan Smith.
Auston Barnes has his shot blocked against Drake Wednesday night. Barnes tallied nine points, but only made two of eight shots from the field in the Braves’ loss. Photo by Dan Smith.
Auston Barnes has his shot blocked against Drake Wednesday night. Barnes tallied nine points, but only made two of eight shots from the field in the Braves’ loss. Photo by Dan Smith.

The Bradley women’s basketball team began 2015 the same way they ended 2014: on a losing streak.
The women fell to every opponent they faced over winter break, losing by an average deficit of 18 points per game. The rough stretch is due to multiple issues.

“The biggest challenge would have to be staying consistent and stopping other team’s runs,” senior guard Michelle Young said. “When we are consistent and stay sharp on the court, we are a great team and stay right in the game. If we stop our opponents’ runs, then we stop their momentum and can go on our own runs.”

Head coach Michael Brooks said he believes that some of the struggles come from a lack of confidence. A lack of confidence isn’t uncommon in a young team like the Braves have. The women routinely start multiple freshmen and sophomores, and they often display little confidence in their shot making abilities.

“We’ve brought in nine new players, and finding trust and belief in one another is difficult,” Brooks said. “It doesn’t come overnight.”

Brooks hopes that the players received a confidence boost from their win over Loyola on Sunday. The 46-45 win was a nail-biter. Junior Fantasia Vine missed the front end of a one-and-one with 14 seconds remaining in the game, and the Ramblers gained possession with a chance to win the game.

The Ramblers set up a play, and, as they attacked, Vine was able to redeem her missed free throw and take the charge from Loyola’s Becca Smith to seal the Braves second victory of the year. The win snapped a 10-game losing streak.

“We really had to stay together,” Brooks said about the win. “We’ve been in some close games against Columbia, [Southeast Missouri] and now here, and it was great to see the trust and the belief in one another to be able to get the job done and hold on for a big win on the road.”

Young agreed that their ability to play together was the key to the victory.

“When our team plays together and plays tough, we are a very good team,” Young said. “We need to not be complacent with this win but take the confidence we gained and move on to working hard to get the next one.”

Sophomore Whitney Tinjum finished with a team high 15 points and 11 boards in the win while freshman Tamya Sims put up 10 points and 7 boards.

The women are looking for their second Missouri Valley Conference victory over Illinois State tonight in Normal.