For the first time since the 2014-2015 season, Bradley has lost 10 consecutive games as the Braves failed to overcome a 15-point second half deficit in a 48-41 loss to Loyola-Chicago on Thursday night at Renaissance Coliseum.
Before tip-off, Bradley found itself at a disadvantage as freshmen Abbie Draper and Caroline Waite could not join the team due to COVID-19 protocols. With 5th-year guard Gabi Haack out for the season, Waite is Bradley’s leading scorer, averaging 13.5 PPG.
Extremely thin at the guard position, Bradley looked towards its veterans to lead the way. Senior guard Chloe Rice led BU with 11 points and also tallied six rebounds. Senior Aannah Interrante, who averaged just over two minutes per game entering the contest, recorded a season-high eight points.
Bradley was challenged from the get-go by Loyola’s backcourt, namely sophomore Mya Chandler. The reigning MVC Freshman of the Year scored the first nine points of the contest en route to a game-high 19 point outing. Graduate Bre Hampton-Bey joined Chandler in double figures with 10.
Ramblers leading scorer Allison Day was held to just six points, but the senior forward surpassed 1,000 career points with a 14-foot jumper in the 3rd quarter.
Loyola jumped on the Braves from the start, racing out to a 14-4 lead after the first quarter. After shooting just 2-15 in the first frame, BU bounced back to shoot 6-15 in the second quarter and entered the locker room trailing 26-18.
Out of the locker room, the Ramblers defense put the clamps back on, and burgeoned its lead to 39-24 with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter.
Into the start of the fourth quarter, the Braves rattled off a 10-0 run, led by two buckets from junior forward Sierra Morrow, and triples from seniors Rice and Interrante.
Bradley’s defense remained persistent in the closing quarter and held Loyola without a field goal for the final 7:23 of the contest. Unfortunately for the Braves, they managed to make just two shots from the floor in that span and never got closer than five points before the Ramblers closed it out with free throws.
The game was a defensive battle down to the wire and it showed in the box score. Bradley held Loyola to a 35% field goal percentage for the game, including 2-8 in the final quarter. However, the number that jumped off the page was Bradley’s shooting: 16-60 – good for 26%.
For the first time in 45 days, the Braves hosted a DI opponent inside Renaissance Coliseum. Their last D1 home game also happened to be their last win – Nov. 19 vs Wisconsin, a 64-57 victory.
The contest also signified Bradley’s conference home opener – the latest ever home opener for BU in the Valley.
“We didn’t want to run too much today because we were so short handed, but because we weren’t running in transition, all of a sudden we were going slow in the halfcourt. That probably wasn’t the right call because we’ve never slowed it up before, we’re not a slow it up kind of team.” Bradley head coach Andrea Gorski on Bradley’s game plan and slow start.
“16 for 60, I can’t say anything more than that. You’ve got to make shots,” Gorski on the offensive output.
“[It was the best defense] of the season so far… Honestly I thought we’d have a hard time guarding them in our [man-to-man], but it was really good down the stretch. I thought we were disciplined, and we’ve had a hard time doing that at certain times,” Gorski on the defensive effort.