The Bradley women’s basketball team started off the season on the wrong foot. The Braves dropped the first two games of their regular season at Kent State Friday and at Butler Sunday.
The Kent State game featured a one-sided affair that saw the Braves fall behind 43-25 in the first half, ultimately losing 77-52. Bradley shot 31 percent from the field for the game and head coach Andrea Gorski attributed that to their post players finding themselves in foul trouble.
“It became hard for us to score because we rely on [the big players] a lot,” Gorski said. “[Kent State] could press up on our guards a little bit more. So in that second quarter when [freshman] Chelsea [Brackmann] and [sophomore] Vanessa [Markert] were on the bench, it just limits what we can do out there and we struggled.”
Bradley played a much closer game at Butler Sunday as they lost a two-point game 58-56. The Braves, once again, found themselves in a hole as they were outscored 18-2 in the first quarter. Gorski said the main problem with the first quarter play was the style of defense the Bulldogs were showing.
“It was the first time we’ve faced a zone,” Gorski said. “We knew they were going to do that, so we worked on that Saturday. But, we were really stagnant, and we just didn’t get the ball movement, and we flat out missed open shots in that first quarter.”
Throughout the three remaining quarters, Bradley outscored Butler by 14 points after they adjusted to the zone defense.
“Once we started the second quarter, getting the ball moving, we started figuring out their zone a little bit more and we were able to score easier,” Gorski said.
The Braves now return home to welcome two tough teams for their first home regular season games. They host Detroit at 11 a.m. Friday and St. Louis at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Detroit is expected to finish near the top in the Horizon League, while St. Louis is currently the favorite to win the Atlantic 10 conference, so the Braves will have their work cut out for them.
“When you play solid teams like this early in the season, you really see what you need to work on,” Gorski said. “You can’t hide anything, and while it is two more tough games for us, it will get us prepared for conference. And that’s the whole purpose of the non-conference season – we’re finding out what our weaknesses are so we can get to work on them, sooner rather than later.”
As far as a game plan goes for this weekend, Gorski said she realizes the key is going to be limiting the perimeter players for both teams.
“One-on-one defense is for both teams because there’s not a lot of people you can sag off on,” Gorski said. “The ability to contain your player one-on-one is going to be really important for these two games coming up. So, we’ll focus a lot on one-on-one defense, stopping penetration and not leaving open three-point shooters.”