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Bradley Braves Extinguish the Flames 85-73

The Bradley Braves got themselves a good old-fashioned Valentine’s Day win over the UIC Flames, putting themselves back into the win column after a two-game losing streak against Evansville and Drake.

The game started out with the Braves down 4-0 after a quick turnover by Demarion Burch, who found himself in the starting lineup over the Icelander Almar Atlason. Burch and Hickman both missed a 3-point shot, respectively, until Duke Deen hit his first three of the night to get the Braves on the board.

Deen hit another 3-point shot 90 seconds later to put the score 7-6 Flames with 16:12 left in the first half. Bradley had two turnovers in 30 seconds that kept them scoreless until Christain Davis hit his first 3 of the night to put the Braves in the lead, and they never looked back.

This shot helped the Braves put together a 12-0 scoring run that made the score 15-7 Braves with 11:53 left in the half. Christian Davis had seven of those points, leading the Braves so far. This run didn’t stop quite yet as the Icelander wanted in on the fun with the first big Kaboom of the night, making the score 19-7.

The offense went quiet for a few minutes afterward until Connor Hickman decided it was a good time to open the bank, making a 3-pointer to make the score 22-11 with 8:13 left in the first half.

The Flames did bring the Braves lead within three with 5:13 left in the half after the Braves offense fell flat, along with more turnovers from Demarion Burch and Duke Deen.

This small lead didn’t last long as after a few made FTs from Ahmet Jonavic (who played some very good minutes for the Braves this game), a made 3 from Hickman, and a few baskets from Darius Hannah including dunk of the year arguably; the Braves were back up to eight.

This crowd was electric after this play, to say the least, and this would have been the play of the half if 1000-point scorer Malevy Leons hadn't made the craziest circus shot to end the half.

Braves were up 40-28 going into the second half, with a lot to be happy about, but also need to clean up the turnovers and shoot a bit better, going 14-32 from FG and 6-14 from 3PT, not terrible but more to be desired.

The second half started out hot, with an alley-oop from Hannah and made threes from Burch and Malevy (who showed me some love at halftime, so if you're seeing this, Malevy, shoutout to you)

On the topic of Leon, he made two more jumpers back to back, along with a made jumper from both Burch and Hannah, which brought the score up to 57-36 going into the commercial break with 15:46 left in the game. Leon was up to 16 points scored and four blocks, which tied a career-high for him.

It was more of the same once we hit the next media timeout with 11:12 left to play; we had a score of 66-47, Darius Hannah had 3 made FT between the breaks, and Meta came in the game and got himself a made jumper! At this point in the game, the Flames started to chip away at the lead, making the score 72-57 with 8:16 to play thanks to Isaiah Rivera, who had 20 points so far for the Flames. This lead of the Braves went all the way down to 11 as Marquis Kennedy made a FT with 6:54 left to make the score 72-61. That didn’t last long as Darius Hannah made another FT, and Christain Davis pulled down a defensive rebound that UIC head coach Luke Yaklich did not like, which led to him getting a technical foul (and as you can see in the replay, I was having way to much fun and waved off the coach)

Deen made his FTs, and one more basket from Darius put the Braves at an 80-66 lead with 4:40 left to play. Both offenses went spotty, committing fouls and turnovers so with 1:22 left the score was only 82-71 with Bradley being up. Malevy made two more FTs to put the Braves at 85 points, and by then, the game was over, and BU was back in the win column.

Bradley shot 49% from FG this game while only shooting 38% from 3-point land, which isn’t pretty. What is pretty is going 25-27 from the charity stripe, with Meta making all 4 of his attempts (I’m only noting him as he’s been working all year to get better from the stripe, so I’m ecstatic to see him do well)

The biggest con from the game is the turnovers, which Bradley committed 19 of them during this game. To be blunt, this cannot happen as we have to face teams like Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, and Drake, who will eat us alive if we turn over the ball like that.

Darius Hannah led the way for the Braves with 21 points, while Malevy Leons had himself 18. (Before the game, I predicted Darius to have a big game, so you're welcome for that)

Christian Davis led the team with nine rebounds, with Hannah having nine. Duke Deen had himself four assists along with 14 points. Malevy Leons had himself five blocks as well which is a new career high for the Dutchman.

The Braves travel to Northern Iowa for their next contest on Sunday, with them needing a win to stay in 3rd place in the conference. Go Braves!


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