Bradley’s Tuesday evening matchup with Judson, the Braves’ first home game of the season, went exactly as one may have expected it to go.
Bradley smoked the NAIA school, setting the school record for margin of victory in a 105-32 win at an empty Carver Arena.
“It really felt empty in there,” redshirt freshman Rienk Mast said. “It was tough. But you’ve got to bring your own energy then, I think we did that. [We] came out of the gate and just let them know there’s no chance today.”
That message was sent thanks to a 14-0 Braves run to open the game. That lead eventually grew to 31-3 and stretched to 53-17 at halftime.
But they didn’t stop there.
“At halftime we didn’t want them to score over 35, that was my challenge to them,” Bradley head coach Brian Wardle said. “The guys did that… Which I don’t know if we’ve been able to do in the past, where we keep defending and keep protecting the paint and the rim, even in the last 10 minutes of a game like this. So I was proud of them today.”
Bradley’s defense was suffocating for the Eagles, who managed under half of its average point output entering the game. Judson shot just 19.4 percent from the floor, the second lowest for an opponent in team history. No Eagle scored more than six points.
On the other hand, all 14 active players on the Braves’ roster scored at least one point, including freshmen Connor Linke and Thomas Hall, who both pitched in the first points of their career.
Four players cashed in 12 points to lead the team; junior guard Terry Nolan, senior forward Elijah Childs, junior forward Ja’Shon Henry, and sophomore guard Ville Tahvanainen.
For the first time in his Bradley career, Mast found double-figures, scoring 11 points on 4-9 shooting to go with five rebounds and three assists.
“I kind of felt rushed the first three games,” Mast said. “This game I just tried to be on my own pace … I think getting more game rhythm really helped.”
The blowout victory breaks the previous school record for margin of victory of 61, which was set on Feb. 27, 1971 when the Braves defeated Chicago State 127-66.
Bradley, now 3-1, will “probably” play this weekend, according to Wardle.
St. Joseph’s was originally scheduled to come to Peoria to play Saturday, but the Hawks have paused all team activities due to a positive COVID-19 test.
The next game listed on Bradley’s schedule is South Dakota State on Tuesday, Dec. 8, but all indications point towards a game being scheduled for as soon as Friday.