Playing two games in less than 24 hours is tough for any team. Coming back after losing the first to win the second is something completely different.
When the women’s basketball team left for Las Vegas, the plan was to come back victorious.
For this one, though, they had to settle for third.
In the opening game of the tournament, the Braves faced off against the Washington State Cougars.
The Braves shot just 32 percent in the first half and just over 40 percent from the free throw line, making seven out of 17 attempts.
Poor shooting in the first half gave the team its lowest scoring total of the season thus far at only 24 points. The Braves would only make one field goal in the last 8 minutes of the first half to finish down 36-24 at half time.
To make matters worse, the Braves committed 15 turnovers in the first half, putting them in a deep hole with only half the game in the books.
In the second half, the Braves would come out firing after the break shooting just shy of 50 percent. However, they were not able to pull within 10 points of the Cougars.
While they shot better from the free throw line in the second half, hitting 10 of 12 free throws, this only brought the percentage made to 58.6.
“I am not concerned with our free throw shooting,” said coach Paula Buscher. “Does it need to get better? Yes. But we shot 41 percent the first half versus Washington State, which is unacceptable, but then [we] went 10-12 [83.3 percent] in the second half. We have good shooters and we just need another level of focus on the free throw line. I don’t expect that to be an issue for us as the season progresses.”
One other big concern in the game was the high number of turnovers. The Braves gave the ball away a total of 30 times and the Cougars capitalized on this, with an edge in points of turnovers 24-18.
The youth of the team has been the bulk of the offense as well. Freshmen Brooke Bisping and Olivia Allen both had a Braves high in scoring having 14 points in the loss, while junior Sonya Harris pulled down 10 rebounds in the contest and was one point away from yet another double-double.
Less than 24 hours after having a tough loss to the Cougars, the Braves turned around and had another hard fight against another dangerous opponent in UNLV.
This game would start off much better for the Braves, who came out and shot well in the first half.
Bradley would hit on seven of their first 11 shots and take a commanding lead early, having a 16-3 run including nine consecutive points.
Freshman Katie Yohn, who was scoreless in the first game of the season, came out shooting, hitting 5-8 from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes of the game to give her 20 points in the first half alone. Yohn would finish the game with a game high and a season-high 25 points, hitting six three’s.
Bisping made her first career start in the game and responded well scoring 17 points and having six rebounds and five assists.
The Braves would hit 11 3-pointers in this game, shooting just over 50 percent from the backcourt, giving themselves their most threes in a game since the 2007 season.
While shooting extremely well from all over the floor, all was not perfect for the team. The Braves gave the ball away 35 times in the game, giving them a total of 65 turnovers for the tournament.
“We have not been handling the pressure well and part of that is our youth but we will get better at it and it will be a main focus this week in practice for us,” Buscher said. “We need to learn to attack the pressure and be more poised in doing so.”
Even with the bad ball handling, the Braves dominated the glass, pulling down 48 rebounds against UNLV, holding them to 32.8 percent shooting. The Braves would walk away with this game with the final score of 83-68, giving the Braves their highest point total of the season.
The Braves have started 4-3 thus far in the season, facing some tough opponents. While many might see the high level of the opponents a bit challenging for the Braves, Buscher said she is pleased with how her team has performed against the tough competition.
“We have been playing very hard and the team really responded to the challenges that were put on them,” she said. “I like how tough our schedule has been, it has not been easy but I like it like that because I know we will be better prepared once we hit the conference season.”
The Braves look to start a nice winning streak when they face off against Sun Belt West Division favorite Arkansas-Little Rock at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday at Woodruff High School.