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Braves beat Panthers, faulty clock to earn series split

Senior forward Elijah Childs dunks in Bradley’s victory over Northern Iowa on Jan. 11. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics.

So often in basketball, the final seconds of a game can last for minutes. 

In Bradley’s 75-73 victory over Northern Iowa on Monday night, the final 3.4 seconds of the game were far longer than the time listed on the clock. 

With the Braves up by three with under 10 seconds remaining, senior guard Danya Kingsby fouled UNI freshman Bowen Born to send the guard to the free throw line for two shots. After making the first, Born intentionally missed the second and the rebound was tipped back to the Panthers. 

The ball ended up back in the hands of Born who missed a fadeaway three, but UNI senior Trey Berhow was waiting on the far side of the rim and tipped in the rebound – seemingly for the tie. 

However, there was just one problem for the home team: the game clock didn’t start until well after the 3-point attempt. After minutes of deliberation, the officials determined that Berhow’s tip wasn’t taken in time; resulting in a regulation victory for the Braves, who sprinted off the court in celebration. 

“I’ve had to [miss a free throw] once or twice in my lifetime, so I had a little bit of a feel on what to do and how to miss it, and luckily it kind of bounced right to us,” Born said. “I thought it was going to be close…” 

“I wasn’t worried, to be quite honest,” Bradley head coach Brian Wardle said. “I figured we had plenty of time… But you never know.”

The victory clinches the Braves a split of the regular season series with UNI following yesterday’s 78-72 loss. 

“We came into this game with a we were not going to lose this game mentality,” junior forward Ja’Shon Henry said. “That’s just how all of us are wired. We practice hard every day for these situations, especially down the stretch in a really close, tight game.”

The series finale followed a similar tune to the first contest: 12 ties and 14 lead changes, with neither team able to hang on to a substantial lead

While Bradley struggled mightily on the glass, losing the rebound battle 40-28, the frontcourt stepped up in the scoring department. 

Senior forward Elijah Childs set that tone early, scoring the team’s first eight points of the game on his way to making his first six shots. While the rest of the team shot 32 percent for the half, Childs’ 75 percent shooting in the frame willed the Braves to a 33-point tie at halftime. 

In the second half, junior forward Ja’Shon Henry replicated Childs’ first half, picking up 12 points on 6-7 shooting. Redshirt freshman Rienk Mast also stepped up, connecting on three treys in the span of three minutes to give Bradley the lead for good at the 7:50 mark of the half. 

“Rienk’s a really good player, he’s really smart and tough,” Henry said of his frontcourt mate, who made his first two collegiate starts in the series. “Seeing him able to succeed now and be more comfortable in playing games coming off a big injury from two years ago… it’s awesome to see.” 

Childs and Henry shared the team lead with 16 total points, while Mast was not far behind with 13. 

The win is the Braves’ first in Missouri Valley Conference play this season, as the team had to wait 19 days between games prior to yesterday’s conference opener due to COVID-19 tests in the program. The series split also marks the team’s first experience with the conference’s new scheduling format in which teams play each other on back-to-back days. 

However, it’s a familiar feeling for Henry. 

“It kind of reminds me of AAU, playing back-to-back games,” Henry said. “We’re all used to it, it’s just on a college level, it’s obviously much different.” 

The victory brings Bradley’s record to 7-4 on the season and 1-1 in conference play. The team will return to action for a two-game series against a resurgent Evansville team on Jan. 16 and 17 at Carver Arena – the team’s first two home games since Dec. 19. 

“I think that fans really had to have enjoyed that one [tonight],” Wardle said. “We’re just happy to come out on top and hit the bus and get home and get some rest, hopefully, before we play Evansville.”

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