For the 11th straight game, Bradley women’s basketball came out on the short end of the stick, falling to Valparaiso 68-61 on Saturday afternoon at Renaissance Coliseum.
The loss felt eerily similar to Thursday night’s Braves loss to Loyola-Chicago, as the Braves fell behind early, rallied to keep the game close at half, surged late, but fell short of a double-digit comeback.
The defeat is Bradley’s their fifth consecutive to begin Missouri Valley Conference play – making the Braves the lone team in the conference without a victory in the league.
After missing Thursday’s game due to COVID protocols, freshman guard and leading scorer Caroline Waite and freshman forward Abbie Draper returned to the lineup, giving the Braves a much needed depth chart boost. Waite struggled shooting, going 3-15 from the field, but posted 11 points in her return.
However, it was senior guard Tatum Koenig who led the Braves throughout the contest, posting a career high 23-points, including five 3-pointers. The West Branch, Iowa native converted one of the most impressive plays of the game just before halftime, heaving a trey from just in front of half court to beat the buzzer.
The Beacons received a balanced effort across the box score, as four players scored 11 points or more. Caitlin Morrison led the way with 15 points, followed by 12 off the bench from Grace White.
Forward Leah Earnest collected an 11-point, 10-rebound double double. Shay Frederick chipped in 12 points in addition to a game high seven assists.
After trailing 35-33 at halftime following Koenig’s buzzer beater, the Braves continued their momentum into the third and took their first lead of the contest at the 7:16 mark of the 3rd quarter on a 3 pointer from junior Sierra Morrow.
From there, the Beacons turned on the jets, outscoring the Braves 18-8 in the 3rd quarter, eventually burgeoning their lead to 14 points with just over eight minutes remaining in the game.
From there, the Braves ripped off a 16-4 run, cutting the deficit to 61-59 with 1:32 to play. However, Bradley couldn’t get over the hump and fell for the second straight home game.
The contest was the Braves’ second in a row at RenCo, and the loss drops their home record to 3-3 after starting the season 3-0 on their home floor.
On the court itself, the Beacons found much of their success beyond the 3-point line, as they drained 13 of 32 3-point attempts.
“You can’t get down and keep expecting to come back like that. We just, offensively, have droughts like I’ve never seen,” Bradley head coach Andrea Gorski on Bradley’s offense.
“Tatum obviously brought her shooting hand today, she did everything she could do. She had a lot of turnovers, but she can’t do everything,” Gorski on Koenig’s performance.
“You gotta bring the fire and the passion every day, and we’re going to continue to do that. I mean, I don’t know how else to do it. I don’t care if we win or lose, it doesn’t matter… These young kids got to grow up fast, and they’re not going to do it by us treating them like they’re freshman, we’re going to coach them like they’re older kids… Every day we’re getting two or three people to set up, well now we need five or six,” Gorski on what she tells the team to keep them motivated during the losing streak.