In one of the most anticipated games of the year, the Bradley men’s basketball team fell to New Mexico on Saturday in the final Mountain West-Missouri Valley Conference Challenge matchup. The Lobos emerged victorious, with a score of 85-75.
Bradley head coach Brian Wardle expressed that he would not take the loss lightly.
“No moral victories,” Wardle said. “A win is a win. A loss is a loss. It’s a very disappointing loss. Our crowd was great. We’re too inconsistent now and we have to toughen up … We beat Penn State and SMU. I thought we were ready to beat a New Mexico.”
The Braves opened the game with an 11-0 run, hitting their first four shots. New Mexico fought back and tied the game at 24 apiece with 6:43 left in the first half. They took the lead a minute later with a 3-pointer and never relinquished it.
New Mexico’s Anthony Mathis led all scorers with 23 points despite Bradley limiting him to five points on 1-5 shooting in the second half. New Mexico’s bench provided a large load of scoring, supplying 60 of the Lobos’ points. The Braves bench, in contrast, only chipped in 11.
Bradley junior guard Darrell Brown led the Braves with 20 points. Junior guard Nate Kennell contributed 16 points, hitting three 3-pointers on seven attempts. Brown said New Mexico’s defensive trap and increased pace troubled the Braves from efficiently executing their offensive game.
“We just got caught up in trying to break the press and once we broke it, a couple guys got rattled,” Brown said. “We just made some key mistakes like taking quick shots and bad shots. They were open shots, but they weren’t shots we needed at the time.”
Wardle also affirmed the Braves’ poor shot selection limited them from competing with New Mexico.
“Every time we needed to make a wide-open shot, we couldn’t make one,” Wardle said. “We took quick jump shots we didn’t want to and I specifically told them not to, so we struggled with executing the game plan in that area.”
The Braves will hit the road right away, taking on Little Rock at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Arkansas.