By: Sammy Stava
The second game of Quarterfinal Friday here at Arch Madness was another in-state rivalry between fourth seeded Bradley and fifth seeded Southern Illinois. The Bradley Braves came into this year’s Arch Madness as the defending MVC Tournament Champions, and the Southern Illinois Salukis were picked to finish dead last in the preseason poll. The Braves also went 2-0 against the Salukis in the regular season.
A lot of those factors didn’t favor Southern Illinois, but the Salukis led 27-24 at the half through the first 20 minutes. Southern Illinois forward Marcus Domask was named MVC Freshman of the Year, but guard Lance Jones was the freshman of this game, who had 12 points at the half and a game-high 20 points.
However, Bradley was the more experienced team than Southern Illinois in this game. Experience matters in a postseason conference tournament, and that played a factor in the final 20 minutes.
In the second half, Bradley showed why they were the defending MVC Tournament Champions, as the Braves’ veteran players stepped up big-time in the clutch moments. Elijah Childs and Darrell Brown combined for 35 points. But it was the freshman Ville Tahvanainen who also had a big night, adding 12 points.
“Every ear when a team wins this tournament, us last year, someone’s got to step up every game and make plays,” Bradley head coach Brian Wardle said.
Bradley made enough plays to win and came away with the 64-59 victory. And for the third consecutive year, the Braves are advancing to Semifinal Saturday. Bradley has a date with eighth seeded Drake, who is fresh off of the pulling off the biggest upset in Arch Madness history.
“They’re playing well. They’re a good team. Best eight seed I’ve ever seen. You’ve got to be kidding me,” – head coach Brian Wardle said of the Drake Bulldogs.
So, it will be Drake vs Bradley to start off Semifinal Saturday at 2:30. Just like we all predicted, right? Welcome to another Arch Madness.