Bradley’s 61-54 win was the lowest scoring output for the Braves this season since the 55-37 loss against Missouri State on Jan. 26. The Braves have sped up their offense to score above 60 every game since then.
Coincidently, this was also Loyola’s lowest-scoring game since their 35-70 loss to Missouri State three days before Bradley played the Bears.
Aside from both teams struggling to play in Springfield, Missouri, both had problems with shooting throughout the game on Wednesday night. Loyola shot 5-20 from three while Bradley shot 5-16.
Overall, both teams are not accustomed to scoring. Both rank in the bottom of the conference in scoring, but in the top of holding other teams from scoring.
With all these missed shots, Bradley led the game in rebounding, 31-27, grabbing eight offensive rebounds and scoring eight second-chance points. Bradley’s head coach Brian Wardle and Loyola’s head coach Porter Moser both agreed rebounding was the x-factor in the game.
“The offensive rebounding in the second half was huge,” Wardle said. “[Loyola] switched so much and we had so many guards on our [forwards] that we talked heavily at halftime about getting more post touches, more post feeds and continuing to go to the glass.”
Sophomore Elijah Childs capitalized with the game plan, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Loyola center Cameron Krutwig led the Ramblers with 13 points and 11 rebounds, similar to his usual average of 14.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Just as Bradley’s Darrell Brown and Loyola’s Marques Townes average 15.3 points per game in the Missouri Valley Conference, both Krutwig and Childs are in the top-3 for conference rebounding leaders.
Senior Luuk van Bree notched a double-double with 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds for the Braves. Wardle thought van Bree’s effort on the offensive glass was pertinent to the Braves’ scoring in the second half.
“I think with rebounding, a lot of time, is how much effort you put in is how much you get out of it,” van Bree said. “You have to consistently keep going and the ball will bounce your way a couple times.”
The Braves and Ramblers will face each other once more at the end of the year on March 2 in Chicago. It is the last regular season game of the conference.
Bradley’s win on Wednesday proved to be a vital one. Now 6-7, the Braves are rising in the MVC standings and closer to avoiding the first round in the Arch Madness Conference tournament.