Bradley women’s basketball dominated Indiana State in the final series of the regular season, sending its seniors into their final postseason with an 86-52 win on Friday and an 80-58 win on Saturday.
Friday’s game was marked by a torrid start from the Braves as they soared to a 27-4 lead after the game’s first quarter. Saturday’s game did not yield as productive a start for Bradley, but the Braves were able to build on a 21-18 lead after the first frame throughout the three remaining quarters.
“We just really stepped up defensively midway through the second quarter,” Bradley head coach Andrea Gorski said. “Offensively, we’re able to get out in transition … 17 transition points, that’s just something that we’re looking to do.”
The nightcap of the series, which was kicked off by a similar 86-52 Bradley win on Friday night, was dominated by seniors during their final home game. Gabi Haack, one of four BU seniors, scored 14 points and collected 13 boards while Nyjah White also notched a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
“I think we really played well as a team,” Haack said. “We focused on getting the boards, Indiana State had five offensive boards in the first five minutes of the game and then they only had four the rest of the game. So we just really focused on boxing them out and getting the boards.”
Bradley was led in scoring by Lasha Petree’s 28 points, enough to move Petree into 10th on BU’s all-time scoring list. Haack moved into fourth outright on the Missouri Valley Conference’s all-time three-point list on Saturday; she now has 271 in her career.
White played sparingly in Friday’s win – Gorski said afterwards that she had not been feeling well leading up to that game – she returned to form in her farewell to Renaissance Coliseum on Saturday.
“I thought they all came out with energy,” Gorski said of her seniors. “Everyone was really excited every time one of our seniors scored today. Everyone was really pumped up about that.”
Bradley started all four of its seniors on Saturday, with Haack and White suiting up alongside Emily Marsh and Uche Ufochuckwu. Junior Tatum Koenig rounded out the starting five. They were all efficient while playing big roles: Marsh nearly totalled her first-ever double-double with nine rebounds and eight points while Ufochukwu grabbed seven boards.
“[It’s] one of the most successful senior classes in program history, three straight winning seasons,” Gorski said. “They’ve just taken the program from being last place or near the bottom of the Valley … we still weren’t very good, when we were recruiting them, but they took a chance, came in and just really helped turn this program around.”
That sentiment was echoed by Petree, who grew up playing with Marsh and has grown close to the entire class.
“The seniors mean everything to me,” Petree said. “They’re some of my best friends … they did so much for this program. It was Gorski’s first recruiting class coming in here and they’ve literally gotten better every single year. So they mean everything.”
Bradley now turns its attention to the MVC Tournament. They enter Hoops in the Heartland as the five seed and will play fourth-seeded Northern Iowa on Friday at 2 p.m.
“We’re all extra excited for the tournament this year, just because, you know, last year it didn’t go our way,” Haack said. “We can’t take anything for granted at this point. And we just have to be ready to play on Friday.”