Bradley women’s basketball is feeling confident ahead of a big weekend at No. 25 Missouri State.
The Braves, 12-8 overall and 8-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference, enter the series on the heels of a split with Northern Iowa.
That series, which fits as part of a 3-4 stretch in the team’s last seven games, saw a heartbreaking buzzer-beating loss in the first game and a physical battle in the nightcap. Against a 13-2 Missouri State team that has yet to lose in the MVC, that physicality could make all the difference.
“It’s gonna be a football game,” head coach Andrea Gorski said. “They are very, very physical. They don’t do anything tricky. They don’t run a ton of different sets; they don’t run anything that’s real complicated. But what they do is they run it at a fast pace with physical screens and then they crash extremely hard.”
Bradley certainly has the personnel to match the Bears’ intensity. Seniors Nyjah White and Gabi Haack both enjoyed a solid weekend against UNI, especially in Sunday’s 78-63 victory. White tallied a career-high 29 points and didn’t take a single three-pointer in the process. Haack scored 21 points and converted seven free-throws while doing so.
Missouri State boasts a deep team with 12 players averaging six or more minutes per game. Of those players, the all-MVC duo of Brice Calip and Jasmine Green is especially dangerous to opponents. Calip enters Friday’s game averaging 14.6 points per game while Green chips in 11 points per game with nine rebounds.
“[Calip] just runs the show,” Gorski said. “She’s just very calm, cool and collected out there. But then you look at Jasmine Franklin … she just does it all. I mean, she can score inside. She’s a great defensive player and she’s leading the conference of rebound … they just have a nice team.”
If it remains close until the final buzzer, Missouri State may have an advantage. The Bears are proven late in games and have won three MVC games by one point. Gorski and the Braves know that the outcome could be different if they find themselves with a late chance.
“I like our chances; I really do,” Gorski said. “I think the difference is when you watch the games, the teams that just went in there and said, ‘You know what, we’re going to take it to them, we’re going to go hard to the rim,’ that’s when you have to do better. You can’t think finesse, you can’t think without skill. You have to out-work them.”
Missouri State is allowing fans to attend — up to 3,991 of them to be exact — a number that Gorski and the Braves have not seen yet this season.
“We’re just excited to go there and play in front of a packed house and have that true collegiate basketball experience again,” Gorski said. “It’s been a while.”
The Braves and Bears will play on ESPN3 both tonight and Saturday night, with this evening’s game starting at 7 p.m. and Saturday’s game slated for 5 p.m. Saturday’s game can also be viewed locally on WMBD-CBS.