By: Sammy Stava
For the first time since the 2009-2010 season, No. 5 seeded Bradley earned a first-round bye to the MVC Tournament Quarterfinals. The Braves relished that opportunity and played like a top-five seeded team, especially in the second half.
Down 35-27 at halftime, Bradley got exactly what they needed, a 12-0 run to start the second half to take a 39-35 lead. In a No. 4 vs No. 5 seed game, this contest had all the makings of going down to the wire, and it did.
Bradley needed some heroics in the final seconds, and they got it. Donte Thomas came through clutch and delivered the game-winning shot with 1.2 seconds remaining as the Braves came out with the 63-61 victory over the Bulldogs. Bradley’s leading scorer this season Darrell Brown Jr. did the same in this game, as he led the Braves with 24 points
Head coach Brian Wardle’s turnaround over the Bradley program continues as the Braves (20-12) recorded their first 20-win season for the first time since 2008-2009, and that was the end of a four-year stretch where they won at least 20 games. And for the first time in eight years, the Braves are advancing to MVC Semifinal Saturday.
Up next for Bradley? They will get a shot at No. 1 seed Loyola tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 p.m CT.
When was the last time Loyola lost? January 31st, a 69-67 defeat to this same Bradley team in Peoria. Then the Ramblers went on to win eight consecutive games.
The Braves will indeed get that opportunity tomorrow.