After scoring just 24 points in the first three periods, Bradley fought back with a 28-point rally in the final eight minutes to hold a one-point edge with 6.7 ticks on the clock. However, Baylor’s Matt Clendenen pulled down the rebound of a missed free throw and was able to drive the middle of the court and get off a near 30-footer just before the horn blared, giving the Red Raiders a hard-fought 54-52 victory.
“Our guys never gave up. I’m proud of that,” declared Bear head coach Chuck Clark. “We struggled some in the first half and were behind going into the final quarter, but then we had one of our best periods of the season. Clendenen just made a great play there at the end to gave them the win.”
The Black-and-Gold faithful did go home with one victory to celebrate as the Bearettes claimed a 52-33 victory over the Baylor girls.
“Playing Baylor, who has 18 wins this season, this time of year is a good test for us and will help us get ready for the tournaments,” proclaimed Bearette head coach Jason Reuter. “They are a tough, physical team, but we were able use our height to our advantage. We did turn the ball over more than we should have, but overall I’m pleased with our performance.”
Bradley will return to the hardwood Friday evening for Senior Night festivities as District 5-AAA newcomer East Hamilton comes to Jim Smiddy Arena for the first time. The Black-and-Gold will wrap up their regular season Monday with a trip to Ooltewah for make-up games before the district tournament gets underway midweek at East Hamilton.
Although the boys teams totaled 106 points before the night was through Friday, Bradley (13-9) and Baylor (14-7), ranked No. 8 in this week’s AP Division II poll, combined for just nine points in the first eight minutes.
With a 3-pointer 6 1/2 minutes into the contest by sophomore Bradley McCurdy accounting for the Bears’ lone basket in the opening frame, both teams managed nine points each in the second period for a 15-13 Red Raider advantage.
Baylor was able to push its small lead to double digits by netting the first seven points of the second half, but the Bears then matched that the rest of the frame and trailed 33-24 heading into the final frame.
After a Raider free throw put them back up by double digits to open the period, Bradley exploded on a 19-8 run, taking the lead on a coast-to-coast drive off a rebound by junior Daniel Clark with 3:20 remaining.
A 3-pointer by senior Logan Cox pushed the Bear edge to four points with 2:40 on the clock, but the visitors came back to even the score with 71 seconds left.
Bradley managed to inch ahead again by hitting four straight free throws, two each by Clark and senior Taylor Bentley in the final minute, however, Clendenen made 1-of-2 charity tosses and Sammy Lupas hit a jumper in the lane to close the gap to a single point with 7.7 on the clock
A second later an intentional foul sent the Bears back to the foul line, but veteran Baylor coach Austin Clark called a timeout to ice the shooter and give his team final instructions.
When the ball bounced off the rim on the ensuing attempt, Clendenen skied to snatch the ball, drove it himself across midcourt and launched the ball just before the final buzzer sounded for the game-winner.
After being held scoreless in the opening half, Clendenen finished with a game-high 18 points, plus he cleared a half dozen caroms. Sammy Lupas helped out the Raider effort with 13 points.
Bentley topped the Bear tally with a dozen markers, including 6-for-6 at the charity stripe, plus he dished out four assists. Freshman Cole Copeland netted 10 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. Daniel Clark helped out with nine second-half points, while McCurdy and Cox had eight. All of Cox’s points, including a pair of treys, came in the final frame.
Bradley got off just 15 two-point shots in the contest, making seven, but went 9-for-23 from beyond the 19-foot arc. Baylor drained 62 percent (16-of-26) from close range and 4-of-12 from distance.
LADY RAIDERS 33
After Baylor (18-9) scored the game’s first half dozen points, Bradley (18-5) fought back to even the game at 8-all and 11-all before scoring five points in the final 45 seconds of the opening frame to take the lead for good.
The Lady Raiders netted the first basket of the second frame to pull within three points, but the Bearettes went on a 15-4 run the remainder of the quarter to take a 14-point lead into the locker rooms at the intermission.
Bradley added insult to injury with a 10-4 scoring edge in the third period and led by as much as 25 points in the final frame before Baylor scored 10 of the game’s final 14 points.
“Twin Towers” Brooke Copeland and Rebecca Reuter did the majority of the damage, withstanding the constant banging of defenders for a combined 31 points and 25 rebounds.
Copeland, who was presented with a commemorative ball before the game for scoring her 2,000th career point recently, led all scorers with 29 points, including 11-of-13 free throws, plus she cleared the boards for a dozen caroms. The University of Florida signee also copped a pair of steals and dished off two assists.
A Middle Tennessee State signee, Reuter netted 12 points and claimed 13 ricochets, plus she blocked three shots, handed out a trio of helps and swiped a pair of thefts.
Freshman Halle Hughes came off the bench to add eight points on 4-of-6 field goal shooting to go along with a pair of assists and two steals. Emma Kate Brown, also a ninth-grader, helped out with seven points and three helps.
BEARS 52, RAIDERS 32
In boys’ JV actions, Baylor claimed a 10-7 edge at the first horn, but the rest of the game belonged to Bradley which led by eight at the half and a dozen by the end of the third frame, and claimed a 52-32 final tally.
Freshman Ty Beavers lit up the scoreboard for a game-high 21 points, while Peyton Parker and Swan Parker netted seven points apiece for the Bears.
Baylor 11 6 4 12 — 33
Bradley Central 16 15 10 11 — 52
LADY RAIDERS (33) — Mya Lony 10, Clemons 9, Smith 7, Huckabay 3, McMahan 2, Cornell 2, Willis, Birdsong, Looper, Popp, Simpkins, Gardner.
BEARETTES (52) — Brooke Copeland 19, Rebecca Reuter 12, Hughes 8, EK Brown 7, Stallings 3, Davis 3, K. Brown, Summars, Brumfield, McRee.
3-POINTERS: Baylor 4 (Clemons, Huckabay, Smith. Lony); Bradley 3 (Davis, Stallings, EK Brown).
FREE THROWS: Baylor 5-of-10; Bradley 17-of-19.
RECORDS: Baylor 18-9; Bradley 18-5.
Baylor 6 9 18 21 — 54
Bradley Central 3 9 12 28 — 52
RED RAIDERS (54) — Matt Clendenen 18, Sammy Lupas 13, Giussani 8, Upshaw 8, Seaberg 4, Maize 3, King, Brogdon, Jump.
BEARS (52) — Taylor Bentley 12, Cole Copeland 10, Clark 9, Cox 8, McCurdy 8, Maroon 5, Morgan, Crisp, Gregory.
3-POINTERS: Baylor 4 (Clendenen, Giussani, Upshaw, Maize); Bradley 9 (Copeland 3, Bentley 2, Cox 2, McCurdy, Maroon).
FREE THROWS: Baylor 10-of-17; Bradley 11-of-15.
RECORDS: Baylor 14-7; Bradley 13-9.