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Braves win home opener despite head coach absence

Alex Rouse and Nika Dorsey. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics.

In Armelia Horton’s head coaching debut for the Braves, Bradley women’s basketball won their home opener despite a busy week.

The Braves defeated the Central Michigan Chippewas on Sunday 65-62, with three Braves scoring in double figures.

Bradley’s leading scorers were senior Ruba Abo Hashesh and junior Kaylen Nelson with 13 apiece. Junior Alex Rouse also chipped in 10.

Bradley’s defense stood strong as they forced many turnovers. The team swiped five steals which helped them go on scoring runs throughout the game, including a 10-2 run in the first quarter.

Bradley shot well from beyond the arc, leading them to a 38-30 lead at the half as well as the eventual 65-62 win. They shot 9 of 24.

“We had a bunch of key moments especially our shooting from outside the 3-point line was really good,” Rouse said. “Other than that we played a good defense which is something that we really focused on in practice and that we’ve been focusing on during the summer too is to lock in on defense and I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

Bradley’s defense stepped up as they allowed 11 fewer points than they had in their first game against Kansas City.

The Braves had an extra distraction to play through, as head coach Kate Popovec-Goss was suspended by the team for the rest of the non-conference season on Nov. 11. This was the first game without their head coach, but the team pushed past it.

“I’m really proud of our team,” Rouse said. “You know, a few things went on this past week and I’m glad we fought through it … and stayed together.”

The win means a lot for a Bradley team that went 4-28 last season and lost their highest scorer from last year.

“It was a really big win,” Rouse said. “Last year, we weren’t as successful so I mean this win this year, especially against Central Michigan, I think it was a really big win for us.”

Heading into their next game against Loyola on Thursday, Bradley hopes to keep their momentum strong and come out of the next game with a winning record.

“Just continue to stay together and play defense and go out there and have fun like we did last game,” Rouse said.

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