The Bradley women’s basketball team, headed by Coach Michael Brooks opened the 2013-2014 season with an early morning matchup against Big Ten foe Illinois.
The Braves had many questions going into the season with their leading scorers from last season either graduating or no longer on the team this season.
But, that proved to be no problem as the Braves dominated the second half on their way to a 98-92 victory in front of a record crowd of 2,402 at Renaissance Coliseum. Junior Michelle Young scored a career-high 32 points, and Catie O’Leary led the way with 18 rebounds to go along with 10 points.
Illinois ended the first half up by 11 and clearly looked in charge of the game. That is when the Braves went on strong run, and Young hit a jumper to tie the game at 61 and the Braves never looked back.
Coach Brooks said Young has made strides in becoming the player who she is today and she has just left off where she was last year.
“I think she [Michelle Young] is becoming a better player and is one of the better players in our league,” Brooks said. “Right now, she is at her high point.”
Looking at the bigger picture though, Brooks said he is proud of how balanced his team is throughout the lineup and understands that it will take a team victory every night.
“We’re a small unit,” Brooks said. “It takes all of us to get it done and everyone needs to be ready on any given night.”
The Braves then traveled to Cape Girardeau, Mo. on Monday night to face Southeast Missouri State and former Bradley assistant coach Ty Margenthaler.
The Braves faced another deficit headed into halftime as the Braves were down 36-30. But the Braves then went on another second half run and the game went back and forth until minutes to go.
That is when senior Kelly Frings, who is coming back this season from season-ending knee surgery, hit a key three pointer to put the Braves ahead with 1:21 left in the game. The Braves would then hit a couple free throws at the end of the game and the Braves would win the game 72-68.
Frings ended the game with 12 points, and O’Leary ended the game with a double-double (13 points and 12 rebounds). Young led all scorers and finished the game with 20 points, and senior Kelsey Budd finished with 17 points.
The Braves hit the court again on Friday night as part of the doubleheader with the men’s team at the Civic Center where they face Stony Brook at 9:30 p.m. The Braves then return to Renaissance Coliseum to play South Florida on Sunday at 3 p.m.