By: Sammy Stava
first of two in-state match ups in the MVC Semifinals on Saturday
afternoon was No. 1 Loyola and No. 5 Bradley. It was an electric
atmosphere at the Enterprise Center between the two fanbases in
Illinois. It turned out to be quite the game, too.
In a re-match of last seasons MVC Semifinal game, Bradley was eager for some revenge. They weren’t intimated against the Loyola team that went to the Final Four last year, coming away with the nail-biting 53-51 victory.
For that to happen, they needed someone to step up other than Darrell Brown or Elijah Childs, and a perfect guy to turn to was the MVC Sixth Man of the Year Nate Kennell. Coming off the bench, Kennell led the Braves with 19 points.
“That’s what it takes to win this time of year, and we were able to make those plays,” – Kennell said of the win.
With the upset of Loyola, Bradley has advanced to their first MVC Tournament Championship game since 2006, when they were also the No. 5 seed.
As for the Loyola Ramblers, they are still guaranteed a spot in postseason play by winning the MVC regular season title, which automatically gives them an NIT bid, but everyone wants the NCAA Tournament. “I mean, you work so hard all year. The goal is to go to the NCAA Tournament, we got a taste of it last year. We had a goal, and we didn’t reach it, and that hurts a lot,” – senior guard Clayton Custer said.
Custer continued, “Obviously, this hurts worse than any loss that I’ve ever had, other than the Final Four loss last year. And this is what makes Arch Madness so special.
While many of the fans and media maybe surprised about this outcome, this Bradley team says don’t call it an upset. “We expected to to win this game. We’ve got one more game to play, and that’s what we came to St. Louis for this year was to put ourselves in this position to have an opportunity to win a championship,” – Bradley head coach Brian Wardle said.
And they’ll get to play for that in the MVC Tournament Championship Game with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line Sunday at 1:00 on 550 KTRS.