The Bradley women’s basketball team took the court at Renaissance Coliseum twice this week, and twice came away with a victory. The Braves opened their nonconference schedule last Friday, taking down the University of Nebraska-Omaha 69-56 and followed it up with a 88-44 win over Lincoln University on Wednesday.
Bradley struggled with hitting shots in the first half against the Mavericks, but their hustle on the defensive end kept things close.
Head coach Andrea Gorski said her team looked tense to start the game, which contributed to their scoring woes. The Braves came out much more loose in the second half though, and found their offensive rhythm. The team shot 68 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes.
“We got good looks in the first half, but our defense kept us in the game,” Gorski said. “At halftime, we told the team to play loose and assured them shots will fall.”
Junior transfer point guard Shunseere Kent, who played 35 minutes and finished with 17 points, led the charge for Bradley coming out of halftime. Gorski said she was happy to see how quickly Kent is finding her role in the offense.
“Shunseere is a dynamic type of player,” Gorski said. “She was able to penetrate and get some pull up jumpers.”
The Braves came out with all cylinders firing on Wednesday and drubbed the Lincoln University Blue Tigers 88-44. Bradley not only displayed their offensive prowess, but also showcased their depth, as the bench combined for 53 points.
The Braves jumped out to a 41-23 lead at the half thanks to a balanced scoring attack.
“We had a lot of people in there in the first half and I was glad to see everyone scoring rather than a lot of shots from one or two players,” Gorski said. “It was good to see everyone touch the ball.”
Freshman guard Nyjah White paced the Braves, putting up team-highs of 14 points and 13 rebounds along with five assists. Gorski said it’s a great feeling knowing she has a player with White’s ability she can turn to on the bench.
“Nyjah’s got a lot of tools,” Gorski said. “She’s very athletic and once the game slows down for her a little bit she’s going to be very very good.”
After a standout freshman campaign, sophomore forward Chelsea Brackman will play a pivotal role for Bradley this season. Brackman, along with several other Braves, is tasked with filling the void left by star guard Leti Lerma who graduated last spring.
Averaging 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds through the first two games, Brackman said she’s thrilled with how talented the freshman are and is excited for the season.
“The team’s goal this year is definitely to get more wins,” Brackman said. “We lost Leti, but we gained some really good players, so we should be alright.”
Gorski said she is looking forward to the team growing as a unit and continuing to play well defensively.
“We have to shore up our half court offense a little bit, and move with more of a purpose from the opening tip,” Gorski said. “We have got to come out with a good rebounding effort, and if we do, it will pay off for us.”
Off to their first 2-0 start to a season since 2013-14, Bradley will face an early challenge as they open a four-game road swing Saturday in Champaign with a 2 p.m. matchup against the University of Illinois.