Bradley women’s basketball picked up their first road win of the Kate Popovec-Goss era and their first in 22 months on Tuesday night, notching a 72-61 victory over the Eastern Illinois Panthers. The Braves handed the Panthers just their second loss of the season and took control from the very start, jumping out to an 8-0 lead and never relinquishing it. Bradley now moves to 3-5 on the season, taking all three wins in their last five games.
Four Braves scored in double figures, led by sophomore guards Caroline Waite and Alex Rouse, who put up 23 and 17 respectively. Both players combined to shoot 50 percent from the field. Waite’s 23 was a season-high for the reigning MVC Freshman of the Year and continued a five-game streak of at least 12 points. Rouse’s effort matched a career high in points but her impact didn’t stop there, as she corralled six rebounds, handed out four assists and came away with three steals.
Junior guard Ruba Abo Hashesh put up 10 points and six rebounds and junior forward Daija Powell matched her effort while playing just 17 minutes. Sophomore guard Nika Dorsey also returned to action for the first time this season, scoring once in the second quarter.
Bradley held the Panthers to 37 percent shooting from the field, which helped compensate for the Braves committing seven more turnovers than Eastern Illinois.
The Bradley lead was threatened on multiple occasions, starting halfway through the second quarter after a layup from the Panthers’ Emily Meidel that cut the EIU deficit to 26-22 and capped off a 9-4 run for the hosts. After an ensuing Bradley timeout, junior forward Isis Fitch drained a 3-pointer and Dorsey followed with a layup to cushion the Braves’ lead to 31-22.
Eastern Illinois managed to get as close as four both shortly before and after halftime, and a layup from the Panthers’ Macy McGlone made it 38-34 Bradley with 7:11 to go in the third quarter. The Braves fended off the opposition yet again, with Waite converting one from deep shortly afterwards. Rouse followed up the triple with a personal 5-0 run near the halfway mark of the third to make Bradley’s lead 46-34. Eastern Illinois was only briefly able to get within single digits of the Braves the rest of the way.
One could argue that the game was decided because of Rouse, who went on a personal 6-0 run to open the contest and the aforementioned 5-0 run in the third quarter while the Panthers made a charge. Eastern Illinois went scoreless for over four minutes to start the game until a pair of free throws from Morgan Litwiller.
Nearly half of Bradley’s points were scored from behind the 3-point line or at the charity stripe. The Braves went 10-11 at the line and made a pair of threes in each quarter. The paint favored Popovec-Goss’ squad as well, as they outrebounded Eastern Illinois by 10 led by Fitch’s 10 boards. Eastern Illinois shot just 29 percent from behind the arc as the Panther’s woes from 3-point land continued.
The win was Bradley’s first on the road since Feb. 5, 2021 where the Braves achieved a 61-51 triumph at Valparaiso. Next, Bradley travels to Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 16 before heading to the Sunshine State for the FIU Hoops Showdown at Florida International University three days later.