NORMAL — Bradley played a first half it will never forget, building a 20-point lead against rival Illinois State.
Problem was, the Braves played a second half they'll never forget either, helpless to keep the Redbirds from rallying to beat Bradley, 74-65, before 4,072 at Redbird Arena on Sunday.
No one would have believed that was possible after BU took a 35-15 lead on a Terry Roberts 3 with 6:24 left in the first half.
No one would have believed Roberts, who finished with 14 points in the first half, wouldn't score again until there were 69 seconds left in the game.
No one would have believed the Braves, who shot 48.5% in the first half from the field and made eight 3s, would fall to 32% from the field in the second half and make just 3 more from long range.
"Embarrassing second half, didn't compete, went in our own world and got selfish," Bradley coach Brian Wardle said. "Tough team to coach in that second half.
"We had five separate guys out there, whole team in their own separate worlds and couldn't get them on the same page. I've never given up a lead like that in my coaching career.
"There's a first time for everything."
Roberts ended up with 22 points, had four assists and made seven turnovers. Rienk Mast bravely tried to will them back into the game, the only BU player who scored over a stretch of 7:32.
By then, ISU guard Antonio Reeves was rolling toward 16 second-half points and guard Kendall Lewis was switched on to Roberts defensively.
The Redbirds, who were 1-of-10 from 3 in the first half and shot 33.3% from the field, flipped the switch on the No. 1-ranked Valley offense in the second half and shot 53% from the field and 7-of-10 from 3.
That fueled the second-biggest comeback in ISU history.
"We've been down before," Reeves said. "We just stayed poised."
Bradley slipped to 8-10 overall and 2-4 in the Valley. The Braves got 17 points and 10 rebounds from Mast. They also welcomed back senior forward Ja'Shon Henry, who had missed six games with a concussion. He played 11:20 and had two points, two blocks and two rebounds.
Mikey Howell hit a 3 to give Bradley a 21-11 lead at 10:24 on a 15-4 run over 6:39.
Ville Tahvanainen delivered two layups, Roberts a reverse layup and, finally, Malevy Leons on a three-on-one break off a turnover with a finish at the rim and just like that, it was 29-15 lead with 7:29 left in the half.
Roberts was unstoppable, pouring it on with pullup 3s on the next two trips to send Bradley to a 35-15 lead with 6:23 left.
ISU doubled Roberts and he found Mast near the foul line, who in turn zipped it in to Leons uncovered along the baseline for a dunk and 40-23 lead with 1:59 left.
The Braves went on to a 40-26 halftime lead.
They committed two turnovers and missed two shots in their first four possessions of the second half, but still led 43-32 when Mast hit a 3 at 16:47.
But Kendall Lewis made a 3, BU's Jayson Kent missed an answering 3, and Reeves hit a 3 and to chop Bradley's lead down to 47-46 with 12:01 left.
ISU's Howard Fleming Jr. scored on a layup and Josiah Strong drained a 3 for a 51-49 lead with 10:09 left.
Then Reeves hit a 3 with 1 second left on the shot clock and ran down the floor grinning with a 54-49 lead and there was no coming back for BU.
LIVE STATS: All the numbers from Bradley vs. Illinois State
8:59 p.m.: FINAL: ISU 74, Bradley 65
8:49 p.m.: Mast willing them back
Rienk Mast hits two more free throws and then a 3 to pull BU within 61-57 with 3:14 left.
8:45 p.m.: ISU in command, 61-52
Rienk Mast is the only Braves player to score in the last 7:32, producing a layup and splitting two free throws. ISU in control, 61-52 with 3:47 left.
8:36 p.m.: Bradley in trouble
It happened like this: Howard Fleming with a layup for ISU, then Mikey Howell missed a 3 for Bradley, and Josiah Strong drained a 3 to give ISU a 51-49 lead with 10:09 left.
Antonio Reeves hit a 3 with 1 second left on the shot clock and ran down the floor grinning with a 54-49 lead.
BU's Terry Roberts turned it over on a batted pass, gesturing in frustration at mid-court, and a few seconds later Strong hit a 3 for a 57-49 lead with 7:03 left.
8:25 p.m.: Bradley lead is 1
ISU gets 3s from Kendall Lewis and Antonio Reeves, with a missed 3 by BU's Jayson Kent in between, and just like that it's down to 47-46 Braves with 12:01 left.
8:16 p.m.: Bradley lead cut to 6
ISU guard Antonio Reeves layup-and-1 cuts Bradley's lead to 43-37 with a free throw pending at the media timeout 15:06 left.
8:12 p.m.: Bradley opens slow
The Braves missed two shots, had two turnovers and missed two free throws as they couldn't score on their first five possessions of the second half.
Rienk Mast stopped the ISU surge when he hit a 3 from the right wing with 16:47 left to put BU up 43-32.
Jayson Kent absorbed a hard foul from Sy Chatman before that, and both crashed to the floor and remained down briefly. Kent was hobbling when he got back up, and missed both free throws.
8:02 p.m.: Leons dunk video
A look at Malevy Leons dunk that gave Bradley a 40-23 lead right before halftime.
7:47 p.m.: HALFTIME: Bradley 40, ISU 26
Bradley has 3s from four different players, including a 4 of 7 effort from Terry Roberts, who leads all scorers with 14.
The Braves shot 48.5% from the field and held ISU to 33.3%.
Ja'Shon Henry saw 7 minutes, 5 seconds in his return from a concussion.
7:32 p.m.: Bradley blowing up the first half
The Braves blew open a 20-point lead with 6:23 left on a run in which Ville Tahvanainen had a layup, then added a second-chance layup, then Roberts with a reverse layup and, finally, Leons on a three-on-one break off a turnovers with a finish at the rim.
Roberts then came down and hit consecutive 3s for 35-15 and forced an ISU timeout.
Roberts putting on a show with 14 points in the game's first 14 minutes.
7:22 p.m.: Bradley rolls to 10-point lead
The Braves put together a 15-4 run over 6:39 to build a 21-11 lead with 10:24 left.
Jayson Kent with a pair of 3s and guard Mikey Howell off the bench for a layup and a 3, while Rienk Mast puts down a pair of short hooks to build that run.
7:12 p.m.: Bradley hitting long range
The Braves fall behind 7-3 early, but consecutive 3s from Jayson Kent (left corner) and Terry Roberts put BU up 9-7 with a timeout at 16:23.
All of Bradley's points are on 3s, two from Roberts, one from Kent.
6:49 p.m.: Starting lineups
Bradley rolling with guards Terry Roberts and Connor Hickman, wing Jayson Kent and forwards Rienk Mast and Malevy Leons.
ISU counters with guards Mark Freeman, Antonio Reeves and Josiah Strong and forwards Sy Chatman and Kendall Lewis.
6:10 p.m.: Ja'Shon Henry will play
Bradley senior forward Ja'Shon Henry is on the floor warming up with the team and will play tonight against Illinois State.
Henry has missed six straight games and 29 days with a concussion suffered on a flagrant foul in the Saint Joseph's game at Carver Arena.
The team says his minutes will be controlled tonight as he eases back into action.
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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 email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.
This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Bradley basketball vs. Illinois State basketball: Live updates, score