By: Sammy Stava
For the first time in MVC Tournament history, there wasn’t a No. 1 seed to take the floor on the first game of Arch Madness Semifinal Saturday. The eighth seeded Drake Bulldogs have been the Cinderella story of this tournament so far. To continue their postseason run, they faced off against fourth seeded Bradley Braves, the best seed remaining and the defending MVC Tournament Champions.
In the semifinals for the third consecutive season, the Braves looked comfortable playing in this same spot on Saturday. In the first 20 minutes, Bradley took a 44-35 into halftime led by their usual contributor Darrell Brown, who had 19 points.
Bradley was 20 minutes away from going to back-to-back MVC Tournament Championship Games. Drake would make it interesting, however. After falling behind 52-39 to open the second half, the Bulldogs went on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to 52-49 with 11:35 remaining.
“I think that’s when we were the calmest probably of the game,” – Bradley head coach Brian Wardle said.
By staying calm, Bradley responded by going on a 7-0 run, and the Braves were pretty much in full control the rest of the way.
76-66 your final. The senior trio of Koch Bar, Darrell Brown, and Nate Kennell combined for 47 of the Braves’ 76 points, led by Brown’s 25.
“I mean, credit to our guys in our locker room, we’ve got a great group of guys. I keep saying that over and over again. We stayed calm. Seniors like Nate and Koch showed leadership, stayed calm, and I think the younger guys followed, and it led to a big win today,” – senior guard Darrell Brown said.
And for the first time in school history, Bradley is advancing to back-to-back MVC Tournament Championship Games.
“It’s another great opportunity for us to showcase our team and Bradley,” – senior guard Nate Kennell said.
That opportunity comes tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 on The Big 550 KTRS as Bradley plays for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.