Bradley never lets up to earn Valley road win in upset over Drake

·6 min read
Bradley forward Rienk Mast battles at the rim with Drake star Roman Penn during BU's 83-71 upset victory at Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022.
Bradley forward Rienk Mast battles at the rim with Drake star Roman Penn during BU's 83-71 upset victory at Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022.

Not this time.

The Bradley Braves built a big lead and never let up on the gas pedal as they upset Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite Drake, 83-71, on the road Wednesday at Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Braves (9-10, 3-4) had leads of eight and nine in the first half, stretched it to 14 in the second half and never let up against a Drake (13-6, 4-2) team that was the oldest in the nation and had a 13-game win streak on its home floor.

"Very proud of our team, how we responded after our last tough road loss," said Bradley coach Brian Wardle, whose team had a 20-point lead at Illinois State and lost Sunday, and earlier this month led by 16 at Loyola and lost in OT. "We needed this road win and I thought we put together one of our better 40-minute performances.

'Tired of losing': 4 big reasons Bradley came together and upset Drake

"Smart, calm. Now we got to build off it, can't get comfortable and we got to continue to play with a little chip on our shoulder. We need to understand if we play smart and stay focused, no matter what our age is, how young we are or who we're playing, we can beat anyone and we know that."

BOX SCORE: Bradley 83, Drake 71 | STANDINGS: MVC men

Bradley freshman guard Connor Hickman drives past Tremell Murphy on the way to a career-high 15 points in an 83-71 win over Drake at Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022.
Bradley freshman guard Connor Hickman drives past Tremell Murphy on the way to a career-high 15 points in an 83-71 win over Drake at Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022.

The Braves shot 59.6% from the field as freshman guard Connor Hickman had a career-high 15, guard Terry Roberts had 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists, forward Rienk Mast added 17 points and eight rebounds, and center Ari Boya came off the bench for a season-high eight points in 14 minutes.

Drake shot 37.7% from the field and got 17 points from guard Tucker DeVries.

The Braves had lost four of their last five coming in, and were without senior forward Ja'Shon Henry, who was ruled out indefinitely after suffering another head injury in Sunday's game at Illinois State.

9:07 p.m.: FINAL: Bradley 83, Drake 71

Bradley gets first Valley road win of season and snaps Drake 13-game home win streak.

8:59 p.m.: Down to 62 seconds

Braves multiple free throws from Terry Roberts and hold 81-71 lead with 1:02 left.

8:52 p.m.: Here comes Drake

Wilkins hits a pair of 3s and 8 points overall to bring Drake within 78-70 with 2:11 left.

8:45 p.m.: Bradley lead grows to 14

The Braves get a dunk from Ari Boya and a 3 from Ville Tahvanainen to open a 73-59 lead with 5:35 left in the game. Boya with a season-high eight points. Tahvanainen hits another 3 and the lead is 76-62 with 3:47 left.

8:33 p.m.: Connor Hickman with career high

BU freshman guard Connor Hickman with 15 points, a career high. Boya's run has reached 12 minutes, and BU leads 62-55 with 9:20 left.

8:18 p.m.: Rienk Mast pushes the lead

Bradley big man Rienk Mast with back-to-back layups to give Bradley a 51-41 lead with 15:52 left second half.

7:52 p.m.: HALFTIME: Bradley 40, Drake 35

The Braves rolled to a nine-point lead with 39 seconds left on free throws from Connor Hickman. But Drake cut it down to four with 14 seconds left when it snagged two more offensive rebounds to keep possession, then got a 3 from Tucker DeVries, on which he was fouled by BU forward Darius Hannah for a four-point play.

7:44 p.m.: Bradley 31, Drake 25

Drake snags four offensive rebounds in a five-shot sequence but can't score, as Ari Boya forces 6-foot-10, 280-pound Darnell Brodie to change his shot. Terry Roberts heads to the other end for a layup with 3:13 left in the half.

7:33 p.m.: Boya has a season high; Roberts bucket and a T

Terry Roberts hits a jumper to give Bradley a 25-17 lead, but says something in front of the Drake bench and gets hit with a technical.

Boya with a layup and BU's lead builds to 27-19, Drake forced into timeout with 8:08 left first half. Bradley is on a 10-4 run over last 3:27. Boya has six points to match his season high.

7:23 p.m.: Bradley 19, Drake 15

Big man Ari Boya in early off the bench for Bradley, scores immediately. Boya did not appear in two of the last three games. Braves get free throws from Connor Hickman and a jumper from Ville Tahvanainen to build lead at 11:17 mark.

7:16 p.m.: Roberts established early

BU guard Terry Roberts with five quick points on an and-1 jumper in the paint and a drive to the rim. Bradley and Drake 10-10 at the 14:06 break.

7:06 p.m.: Starting lineups

Bradley will open with guards Connor Hickman and Terry Roberts, wing Jayson Kent and forwards Malevy Leons and Rienk Mast.

Drake with Wilkins, Penn, DeVries, Murphy and Brodie.

Bradley's Ja'Shon Henry listens to his coaches during a timeout as the Braves battle St. Joseph on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 at Carver Arena.
Bradley's Ja'Shon Henry listens to his coaches during a timeout as the Braves battle St. Joseph on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 at Carver Arena.

1:00 p.m.: BU senior out indefinitely with head injury

Bradley senior forward Ja'Shon Henry's comeback from a head injury began and ended during Sunday's game at Illinois State. He was ruled out indefinitely Wednesday after absorbing contact to the back of his head on a play under the basket late in the second half of Bradley's 74-65 loss at Redbird Arena.

Henry appeared to be unsteady after that play as he ran down the court, blinking.

"We got him out of there, he wasn't himself after that hit," Bradley coach Brian Wardle said. "We don't know if he'll be able to play again this season. His status is indefinite. It's obviously a huge hit to our team, he is our most-experienced player and a great leader.

"Ja'Shon is a tremendous person, and we want what is best for him."

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It's unclear if this is a new injury, or a relapse into injury protocols from the prior one. Henry suffered a concussion when he absorbed a flagrant foul in a Dec. 18 game against Saint Joseph's at Carver Arena.

Henry missed six straight games over 29 days before passing all medical protocols and being cleared to return to the lineup Sunday at ISU. He came off the bench and played 11:20 and had two points, three rebounds and two blocked shots in that game.

He is Bradley's third-leading scorer at 10.4 points per game, and averaged 4.9 rebounds in 11 games as a fixture in the starting lineup.

Bradley basketball coverage from pjstar.com

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The rise of Connor Hickman: When this freshman guard got better, so did Bradley basketball

Bradley-ISU recap: Bradley vs. ISU recap: Braves can't hold off charge in second half, drop rivalry game

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Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men's basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or deminian@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Bradley basketball at Drake live updates: BU upsets the Bulldogs

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