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Bradley closes sweep of Evansville with 77-57 win

Photo courtesy Bradley Athletics and Josh Schwam.

It was a big weekend for Bradley in Evansville as they capped a sweep of the Purple Aces with a 77-57 win on Saturday night. The Braves, now 5-1, are off to the second-best start to Missouri Valley Conference play in program history after last season’s 7-0 start. 

If depth was the storyline in Friday night’s 96-53 clobbering, the starting five was the big thing to take away from the nightcap – specifically the trio of Gabi Haack, Tatum Koenig and Lasha Petree, who combined to score 57 of the Braves points. 

Haack led the way with a season-high 27 points on a 9-15 performance from the field. Koenig’s 15 points were supplemented by 8 rebounds, a mark that tied a career-high.

“Tatum’s as tough as they come,” Bradley head coach Andrea Gorski said. “You know, we change things up and maybe five, six games [into] the non-conference, we decided to let Tatum read if she wants to rebound or not. You know, because she’s so tough, she doesn’t really get tired. She’ll go in and scrub it up with the big kids.”

The Braves spent the game’s early stages searching for a level of energy that matched what they displayed on Friday night. Bradley connected on just 11 of its first 28 shots, finishing the first half at about 39 percent from the field. However, the Braves were able to supplement those makes with 7 throws and entered the locker room with a 36-32 halftime lead. 

The third quarter was when the Braves pulled away, led by an 8-point run from Petree that ended a quiet stretch to start the game. All of Petree’s 15 points came after the 3:03 mark in the third quarter. 

“We had to manufacture some energy a little bit at points” Gorski said. “But Lasha, I mean, she passed on a three, which I’ve never seen before, ever, and I kind of got on her like ‘you better never, I don’t care if you’re 0-for-500, shoot the next open three.’ And then [the] next one was open [and she] knocked it down.”

A 20-point effort from Abby Feit led the Purple Aces, who bounced back from Friday night’s losing effort to keep the outcome of the rematch in jeopardy until the final frame. 

“Evansville’s energy was so much better today,” Gorski said. “I think they did a much better job, they played man [defense] the whole game other than a couple out of bounds possessions, you know, yesterday they were exclusively zone. So I just thought they played with great energy.”

With their efforts tonight, Haack and Petree moved into eighth and twelfth on Bradley’s all-time scoring list, respectively. 

Bradley now turns its attention to a home series with Loyola-Chicago on Jan. 22 and 23.

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