DAYTON – When a team holds the opponent’s two best players to one total basket in regulation play, you would expect that team to win, unless that team is the young Wright State Raiders.
With their two leading scorers held to just one for 10 in field goals an experienced Bradley team had enough other weapons to defeat Wright State in overtime 72-65.
With 33 seconds left in regulation play and Wright leading by four at 57-53, Bradley’s Andrew Warren hit a 3-pointer to cut the Raiders’ lead to one.
When Wright State’s Vaughn Duggins got fouled with 31 seconds left he made one of two free throws to get the lead back to two at 58-56.
Wright State’s John David Gardner fouled Jeremy Crouch with 19 seconds remaining he made both free throws to tie the game at 60-60.
Wright State (3-3) got one more shot to win. With 2.1 seconds remaining Duggins got off a good shot at the top of the key and it bounced out to send the game in overtime.
In overtime Bradley (7-3) out-scored the Raiders 14-7 as Bradley’s leading scorers each scored a basket after being handcuffed in regulation play.
“I thought they (Wright State) guarded us really well. I thought both teams played well defensively. They are a good basketball team and they will win a lot of basketball game,” said Bradley coach Jim Les. “I didn’t see any panic set in and we stepped up and made big plays.”
Daniel Ruffin is leading Bradley at 16.4 ppg. He played with an abdominal strain finished 1-5 at seven points. Jeremy Crouch averages 14.5 ppg for the Braves and finished with seven points on 2-7 shooting.
Warren steeped up big tonight for the Braves with 23 points. He was the only Bradley player in double figures.
Warren who had been just 6-22 his previous three games had been working on his shots in practice and thought he was in a good position to take shots from the perimeter.
“The way our offense is sometimes, certain teams draw in on the penetration and that frees up guys out on the wings. That is how I got some good shots in the first half,” explained Warren.
In the first half Wright State jumped out to a 15-5 lead at the 11:45 mark. Bradley came roaring back and finally took the lead on a 3-pointer by Andrew Warren at the 1:25 mark.
With 53 seconds left Duggins fouled Warren as he attempted to shoot a 3-pointer. He calmly went to the line and hit all three foul shots to put Bradley up by five points at 29-24.
Wright State got the ball with 18 seconds. As time was running down Gardner missed a long jump shot. He got his own rebound and put it in just as time ran out to make it 29-26 at the half.
In the second half Bradley held the lead until the 14:00 minute mark when Duggins hit a jump shot to put the Raiders up 39-37.
Wright State got their lead up to nine points when Cooper land hit a 3-pointer to make it 51-42.
It was a lead the Raiders would hold until Bradley tied it up to send it into overtime.
Duggins led all scorers with 24 points on 8-13 shooting.
“We were a couple shots away from beating Valpo and a couple shots away from winning tonight. It shows how easy a game could swing and tonight it just didn’t work out for us,” said Duggins “We just couldn’t make those tough plays offensively and defensively when we had to.”
-Bradley leads the all-time series 2-0.
-Bradley also played Horizon League member UIC losing 84-75 and Loyola winning 64-47.
-If you were wondering where former Evansville coach Steve Merfeld went after leaving Evansville, wonder no more. He is an assistant coach at Bradley.
-Bradley’s next game is Wednesday December 19th at Butler at 7 pm.
-Wright State’s next game is Saturday against local rival Miami at home at 7 pm.