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Men’s basketball takes care of business in win over DII Maryville

Bradley men’s basketball used its best shooting night of the season to take down Division II Maryville 91-58 Tuesday night at Carver Arena.

Bradley shot 59.7 percent from the field, including 63 percent in the first half. The Braves were shooting as high as 65 percent as late as the 9:30 mark of the second half, but just barely dropped below 60 before the end of the game. The mark is the team’s highest in a game since Dec. 13, 2017, when they shot 60.8 percent in a victory over Little Rock.

The lead exchanged hands four times in the early stages, but the Braves took control of the game thanks to a 20-0 run to end the first half.

Aside from the shooting percentage, impressive numbers were abundant in the postgame box score, as Bradley scored 50 points in the paint and dished out 27 assists.

“I challenged the guys to stay committed to the details, stay committed to our style, how we play, throughout the two hours tonight,” Bradley head coach Brian Wardle said. “The effort level was good, the unselfishness was good.”

The Braves’ 91 points were well distributed, as three Braves achieved double-figures, and all five starters scored at least eight points. Junior forward Elijah Childs led the team in scoring and rebounding for the third consecutive game, with 16 points and eight boards. Senior guard Nate Kennell and sophomore forward Ja’Shon Henry both posted 15 points.

Senior guard Darrell Brown fell just short of a double-double, scoring eight points while dishing out nine assists.

“We had a good day of practice before the game,” Brown said. “We saw what spots we can attack, because [Maryville] plays so packed in.”

The game marked the return of former Bradley guard Antoine Pittman, who spent four years at Bradley before joining Maryville as a graduate transfer ahead of this season. Pittman scored the Saints’ first basket of the game but was held relatively silent the rest of the way, with the exception of a second-half 3-pointer. He finished with those five points on two for nine shooting.

Bradley’s senior guards couldn’t help but crack smiles when asked about their former teammate.

“It’s fun,” Kennell said. “I enjoy seeing Pitt, it was fun being able to match up with him.”

“I think it’s kind of weird, but fun also,” Brown said. “We played together for three years, so, all the memories we have together and winning a championship, just being together on a day by day basis, it’s something you always remember. Just being able to share the court with him, even if he’s on the other team, is special.”

Wardle was very complimentary of one of his first recruits, who started 49 games for the Braves, many early in the head coach’s tenure.

“I love Pitt,” Wardle said. “[He was] a big part of this program building, great teammate, tough guy … Before the game and after, it was great to see him, and he’s always part of our family.”

The Braves will start a seemingly tough three-game stretch to close non-conference play on Sunday versus Georgia Southern, before traveling on Miami-Ohio Dec. 21 and taking on Toledo at home Dec. 28.

Bradley suffered a road, overtime loss at the hands of Georgia Southern last season, who finished second in the Sun Belt conference. This season, the Eagles will come to Peoria with a 6-3 record. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m. 

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