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Analysis: Bradley women nearly pulled it off; Team should play in postseason tournament

Junior Gabi Haack flaunts her chest after getting fouled as sophomore Lasha Petree looks on. Photo by Ronan Khalsa.

The Bradley women’s basketball team nearly came back from a 20-point deficit senior day Sunday versus AP No. 23 Missouri State. After the 66-69 setback, it will play Missouri Valley Conference bottom feeders this week in Indiana. Bradley is one win away from 22, which would be a program record.

Bradley beat Indiana State 68-59 and plays Evansville tomorrow at 1 p.m.

The Braves have a great opportunity ahead of them and can truly play with anyone. The Braves lost by three to the Bears and if the team had collectively shot better than 12-21 from the free throw line they would have won.

The first home loss in 19 games also hurt the Braves for their NCAA Tournament chances, but the ability to be stout at Renaissance Coliseum could be pivotal if the Braves are to host an NIT game.

Bradley will be the No. 3 seed at the MVC tournament next weekend.

“We let one get away here, that’s kind of how we feel,” head coach Andrea Gorski said. “We got to go take care of business.”

The Braves took care of business Thursday night in Indiana, outrebounding the Sycamores by 12 and will have momentum heading into Hoops in the Heartland Friday March 13, assuming they beat winless Evansville at 1 p.m. Saturday. Four of Bradley’s five starters scored in double figures.

“I know we can beat anyone in this conference,” junior Gabi Haack said. “Once you get to the tournament, everyone is hungry, everyone thinks they can beat anyone so it’s really whoever brings the most energy and is most focused.”

The Braves shot a better percentage than the Bears but struggled on the offensive boards, giving up 19. Missouri State tallied 28 second chance points.

Although the Braves might not have the height to compete against the best NCAA programs they have the defense to keep scoring at bay. Bradley battles and can never be counted out.

After allowing 40.0 percent shooting to Indiana State in the first half and went into the locker room up by just a mere point. The Braves regrouped to hold the Sycamores to 28.6 percent after the break.

“I think we kind of went away from that defensive game plan in the first half, but channeling in on that and knowing when to do certain screens or knowing who you have in the ball screen,” senior forward Chelsea Brackmann said with WIRL’s Ed Hammond. “Sometimes we didn’t have our hands up on 3’s or we let them go to their favorite shoulder in the post, so I mean mental mistakes.”

With the loss to the Bears, Bradley dropped three spots in the ranked power index to 41 and is in the first four out of the NCAA Tournament’s latest ESPN Bracketology.

The MVC has five teams in the top-75, and is the eighth best conference as a whole according to the metric. That means at least five teams should play in postseason tournaments.

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