Bradley men’s basketball lost its conference opener and first game in 19 days 78-72 at Northern Iowa on Sunday afternoon. The loss brings the Braves’ record to 6-4.
Who: After missing Bradley’s last game at Mizzou on Dec. 22 because of an emergency appendectomy, junior guard Terry Nolan led the Braves with 17 points, including five three pointers.
On his 22nd birthday, senior forward Elijah Childs scored 15 points and snagged nine rebounds. Redshirt freshman Rienk Mast stepped up in place of the injured Ari Boya, collecting 14 points along with six boards in his first collegiate start.
For the first time this season, senior guard Danya Kingsby and junior guard Kevin McAdoo did not check into the game.
Redshirt junior forward Austin Phyfe led the Panthers’ offensive attack with 18 points and nine rebounds.
What: After the teams were knotted at 36 at halftime, Northern Iowa used a strong stretch at the end of the game to down the Braves. After a Phyfe layup with 5:15 left in the game, the Panthers held the lead for the remainder of the contest.
14 turnovers proved costly for the Braves, as UNI capitalized for 19 points off of those miscues.
When: The loss marks the second-latest MVC opener in team history, behind the 1987-88 season. After the Braves’ first conference series with Valparaiso was postponed due to COVID-19 issues in the Crusaders problem, Bradley had positive COVID-19 tests, postponing the team’s series with Loyola-Chicago.
Head Coach Brian Wardle’s squad will get another shot against the Panthers at 7 p.m. tomorrow night.
Where: The Braves are now 0-3 in true road games this season compared to a 4-1 mark at Carver Arena. Last season, Bradley lost its only game at the McLeod Center 69-64.
“I think we’re going to take team’s best shots, and teams are going to be excited to play us, and every possession matters. We’ve got to be dialed in and I just thought we kind of wore down a little bit the last 10 minutes… So that’s what hurt us,” head coach Brian Wardle said on the final stretch of the game.
“You’ve got to put this game in perspective, I told [the team]. Perspective is key everyday. And I know what we’ve been through and I know what we just came off of. So, if we could’ve came in here and stole one today, I would’ve been so excited. We try to take these road trips, and I think most teams are saying: ‘let’s go 1-1 if we can and 2-0 if we can steal one,’” Wardle said about the circumstances of the loss.
“Rust is expected to be there, because obviously, we sat out for 10 days. But that’s kind of the new norm with NCAA basketball, so basically, you’ve just got to play through it… [You have to] have that mindset that ‘I play basketball, I train for it for several years,’ so it’s just another day at the rec,” Terry Nolan said about the effect that the Braves’ off-period had.