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Strong second half keys Billikens past Braves

St. Louis relied on a strong second-half run as they cruised to a 69-54 win over Bradley. 

For the Braves, now 2-2 on the season, it marked a continuation of the trends that the season’s first three games produced. 

Bradley lacked discipline throughout the game, especially so in the second half. The Braves finished with a 35 percent shooting mark from the field and connected on just 8 of 28 shots from the field in the second half. 

“We got down,” Bradley head coach Andrea Gorski said. “Instead of sticking with our sets and running an offense we just kind of took some quick shots and didn’t move the ball around and we’re not very good when we do that.”

The Braves and Billikens battled for much of the game’s first half, with both teams trading the lead until the final seconds of the second frame. But after Bradley took a 31-30 lead with 35 seconds remaining in the first half, St. Louis reclaimed a 32-31 advantage with a Ciaja Harbison jumper and never trailed again. 

Harbison, a junior, did her part by leading all scorers with 25 points. Bradley, led by dual 18-point outings from junior Lasha Petree and senior Gabi Haack, was never really able to find its footing in the second half.

The early portion of the third quarter saw several swapped baskets and was close overall. After the Braves trailed by a 44-42 mark with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter, however, the Billikens opened it up. St. Louis doubled Bradley up and outscored the Braves 25-12 the rest of the way. 

Part of the problem for the Braves concerned a depletion of the depth that has been a major point of pride for the team. Senior Nyjah White, who notched a double-double on Wednesday against Wright State, was out due to a personal matter. Fellow senior Emily Marsh was also out as she continues to recover from a hip injury. 

The adjustments that the absences required, Gorski noted, caused the team’s guards to have to fill different roles. Sophomore Mahri Petree slid down to the low post and left Tatum Koenig and St. Louis transfer Chloe Rice to carry the load in the backcourt. 

“When we get everyone back, just to get these kids that much experience against a really good team,” Gorski said. “It’s going to help in the long run.”

A pair of home games awaits the Braves next. Bradley is scheduled to host Northern Illinois on Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. on ESPN+. 

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