The Bradley men’s basketball team allowed Southern Illinois to complete a late-game turnaround, which resulted in a 72-68 loss at Carver Arena on Saturday. The Braves now stand at an 11-12 overall record and the last place in the conference (3-7 in MVC).
“It was a hard-fought game,” Bradley head coach Brian Wardle said. “[Southern] obviously made the shots down the stretch.”
Sophomore forward Elijah Childs took charge of the Braves early into the first half, scoring the team’s first nine points.
The Salukis held the 15-12 advantage until the Braves went on a 22-9 run in the last 11 minutes of the first half. Bradley closed out the first half with a 10-point lead, 34-24. Junior guards Darrell Brown and Nate Kennell posted two 3-pointers each alongside Childs’ 13 points.
Bradley continued to hold the lead for the majority of the second half. With 12 minutes left and down by 10, SIU went on a 15-5 run to tie the game at 57. Brown responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to give Bradley the 65-60 edge with 5:28 remaining, but it wouldn’t be enough.
The Salukis went on a 12-3 run and forced the Braves to miss all six shot attempts in the last 2:42 of the game. SIU guard Aaron Cook ended the game at 72-68 with a vital block and rebound. Wardle praised Southern Illinois for their late-game runs.
“I felt we had a lot more opportunities to score a lot more points,” Wardle said. “We missed out on our opportunities when we had some open shots [in the final seconds]. [Southern Illinois] got big rebounds, so I give them credit.”
The Braves managed to grab three more offensive rebounds than Southern (14-11), but Wardle emphasized that rebounding on both sides of the court needed to be improved.
“We just gotta understand that defensively in the second half, we have to be a lot better and our defensive rebounding needs to be a lot better,” Wardle said.
Childs led the Braves in scoring with 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Kennell and Brown made 13 and 12 points, respectively, while senior guard Luqman Lundy had a career-high five assists.
Despite SIU shooting 43.6 percent compared to Bradley’s 42.2 percent, the Salukis made 19-of-24 free throws while the Braves went 6-for-10 at the line.
The Braves will look to rebound in MVC play against Northern Iowa at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Cedar Falls.