Women’s basketball struggles in MVC play

The Bradley women’s basketball team has had its ups and downs this year such as beating Illinois on the road but also giving up 116 points in a loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Braves lost by four points at home to Missouri Valley Conference leader Wichita State after nearly erasing a 16-point deficit, and were within five points against Creighton with six minutes remaining on Sunday before falling 79-67.

However, the close games haven’t resulted in many wins for the program, as Bradley is 7-11 overall and 1-6 in conference action. Despite the six Valley losses, four of them were by five points or less.

“Any time you lose close games, you’re going to do two things: get hungrier or lose your passion,” coach Michael Brooks said. “I think we showed when came out against Creighton that we’re still hungry, we were up by seven in that game, we just haven’t been able to find a way to sustain our energy and our execution all the way from start to finish yet.”

The Braves may face more adversity Friday as junior Kelly Frings, who averaged seven points and rebounds in the past four games before Sunday, will have her injured knee examined by a doctor.

“We’re not a very big team, and with having the departure of Kelly Frings right now to our team, it only creates a little bit more added emphasis for us to do some different things defensively to create turnovers and limiting our turnovers,” Brooks said.

Sophomore Shronda Butts has averaged 15 points per game in the past four contests.

“Coach has been on me a little bit about getting to the basket, a lot more than I did last year instead of taking the three or the pull-up [jumper],” Butts said. “I think that what he’s been reinforcing and I’ve been trying to do a good job of getting to the basket.”

Bradley’s lone conference win came Jan. 12 against Missouri State. Senior Katie Yohn, who set the program’s record for most three-pointers in a career earlier in the game, drilled the game-winning three-pointer from the left wing with 1.9 seconds remaining to give the Braves a 80-79 victory.

Otherwise, the Braves have lost seven of their last eight games.

“They know we’re just a step away, one stop away, sometimes one less turnover,” Brooks said. “So we’re excited about the opportunity to come out and fight and not be at the bottom of the conference, especially when we’ve played the top teams of the conference so well.”

Now in the midst of a three-game losing streak, Bradley hosts Southern Illinois at 2 p.m. Saturday in the arena before starting a three-game road trip next weekend.