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Weight room Win; Braves take the War of 74, 48-45

The Bradley Braves secured the sweep of the War on 74 rivalry Saturday night, placing themselves securely as the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Arch Madness tournament, which earns them a double-bye

This game started hot, with Darius Hannah getting a quick foul on him which sent Johnny Kinziger to the charity stripe, who hit all three shots to open things up.

After three-point misses from Duke Deen, Malevy Leons, and Connor Hickman the Braves finally got on the board with a Hickman jumper, making the score 2-5 with 17 left in the first half.

This basket would be the only one for Bradley for a hot minute, as they proceeded to go on an almost four-minute scoring drought, with two missed threes from Christian Davis and another missed 3 from Duke Deen and Malevy Leons, Connor Hickman landed a three making the score 5-10 with 13:10 left in the first half.

The Redbirds responded right away as Kendall Lewis made a hook shot to put the birds at 12, but that’s when some shots started to fall for the Braves as Duke Deen hit his trademark pull-up for 2 and Darius Hannah got himself a Kaboom!

Both sides stayed quiet until Demarion Burch hit a 3 to make the score 14-13 Redbirds with 9:52 left. The teams each traded shots back and forth in the paint, with the Birds making one and the Braves making two, including a Duke Deen Jumper to make it 17-16 with the Braves now on top.

Not much action happened in the rest of the half, with each team making minimal shots and flaunting their defense, with turnovers and steals from each side and, of course, many missed shots.

Halftime rolls around, and we are tied at 21. Yes, you heard me correctly, 21 for each side.

Each team shot under 30 percent and only made eight field goals. Bradley was also 2-15 from three-point range as they made the only threes of the half. (ISU went 0-8)

The second half rolls around, and the Redbirds start with a bucket from Kinziger breaking the tie. Bradley quickly responded with buckets from Hannah and Deen, just for the birds to tie it right back up at 25, which didn’t last for long as they made another layup, bringing the score to 27-25 with 17:30 left.

The Redbirds finally made their first three of the night thanks to Malachi Poindexter, which put the Braves down five. Christian Davis, who has been getting good reads all night got his first three to fall, putting the Braves deficit back to only two with 16:16 left.

One Duke Deen three later and a hustle play from Malevy Leons, the Braves were back in the lead with the score being 33-32.

Mal made his free throw to put the score at 34, just for ISU to tie it back up. Darius Hannah was then fouled after a rebound putting him on the line where he made 2/2. Bradley had the lead back once again. Too bad the Redbirds then decided to make their second three of the night, giving them the lead right back with 13:00 left in the game.

Darius Hannah then proceeded to miss a layup, get his own rebound, miss another layup, didn’t get his rebound, and then stole the ball right back 15 seconds later leading to Almar Atlason nailing a three-pointer for the Braves.

The teams then went about three minutes of scoreless basketball until Leons netted himself a three-ball, putting the score 42-37 with Bradley being up. The Redbirds still couldn’t score, but Almar could as he swished himself a corner three to make it 45-37 with 7:30 left.

Next thing you know we’re at the under-four timeout, and the score is only at 45-39 with the make coming from a made jumper by Dalton Banks. Almar comes out that timeout and makes 1/2 FT as he was fouled going into said timeout. 46-39 Braves.

As much of a hero Atlason has been for us, he committed a crucial foul with 2:13 left, sending Myles Foster to the line, where he made a free throw, putting the Braves only up by six. This lead would go down to as little as one as with under a minute to go, Banks made a layup, and Kasubke made a clutch three to make it 46-45 with 27 seconds left.

Kasubke couldn’t play hero as with 20 seconds left, he fouls Christain Davis sending him to the line where he hits both FTs, and by then, that was the dagger. Game over. Braves win.

Duke Deen led the way with 11 points, with Malevy coming in with eight points. Darius Hannah and senior forward Connor Linke each had eight boards, with Malevy again right behind them with seven. Duke had himself three assists, and Malevy secured a pair of steals.

For a day in which we celebrated Duke Deen hitting 1,000 points and a crowd of over 9,000 you’d expect a high-scoring game, but as they say, “defense wins games” and this one will forever be memorable to coach Brain Wardle as it was his 250 career win as a head coach. The Braves play next on Wednesday at home against the Salukis, with this game being senior night. Go Braves!

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