PEORIA — Some good adjustments and a milestone for senior forward Abby Brockmeyer Saturday weren’t enough to save the SIU women’s basketball team from a weekend sweep at Bradley’s hot hands.
Shooting a Renaissance Coliseum-record 63.8 percent from the field, the Braves pulled away in a 7 ½-minute stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters to stop SIU 80-68.
Back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench on Friday and sitting out last weekend’s Missouri Valley Conference sweep of Evansville due to COVID-19 protocol, Brockmeyer finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
The 1,000th career point came on a short jumper in the lane with 4:26 left in the game, capping a 7-0 run that cut Bradley’s lead to 71-61.
“She’s just one of those tough, hard-nosed kids that puts her work boots on every day and does whatever she can for the team,” said Salukis coach Cindy Stein. “Coming back from being off for 10 days is hard, and she’s had to do that a couple of times. It just speaks to how tough she is.”
Brockmeyer also finished with two steals, giving her 96 for her career. Four more will make her the first player in program history with 1,000 points, 700 rebounds, 100 assists, 100 thefts and 100 blocked shots.
Makenzie Silvey pumped in a team-high 17 points for SIU and Payton McCallister added 15, including eight in a row during a second quarter stretch where the Salukis (5-4, 2-2) scored on eight straight possessions and wiped out an early 10-point deficit.
But SIU couldn’t find that hot shooting hand in the second half and also couldn’t cool off the Braves (7-4, 3-1). Leading 50-48 after Gabby Walker converted a layup at the 4:46 mark of the third quarter, the Salukis’ offense dried up.
Bradley finished the period with a 17-4 run that included a 4-point play from Chloe Rice and seven of Lasha Petree’s game-high 24 points. It then started the fourth quarter with six straight points and built the margin to 71-54 when Stein called timeout with 7:07 left.
“They wore us out,” Stein said. “Our conditioning level needs to improve to be able to play with them. We’ve got to be able to hit tired shots, and that’s what we didn’t do.”
If nothing else, this was much more competitive than Friday night’s 77-55 setback, when SIU trailed 15-0 before scoring. Stein opted for a bigger, more experienced lineup, with Brockmeyer and Walker starting in tandem for the first time this year along with Rachel Pudlowski up front.
The Salukis cut turnovers down from 15 Friday night to nine in the rematch and also controlled the rebounding most of the day. They finished in a 31-31 dead heat there as the Braves ate away that advantage down the stretch.
But Petree, Gabi Haack and Nyjah White couldn’t be stopped. Haack and White each scored 20, and White contributed a game-high seven assists. For the weekend, Bradley canned better than 56 percent of its field goals.
“They do some really good things offensively,” Stein said of the Braves. “They isolate people, and if you don’t stay disciplined, they will expose you defensively.
“But I will tell you that we got better today. We were disappointed after last night’s game, but we rebounded and fought hard this game. We stuck to the game plan better, and I don’t think we’re far off from where we need to be.”
DAWG BITES: Bradley’s 80 points was a season high allowed by SIU, which entered the weekend permitting just 58.4 ppg. … Caitlin Link, one of three starters from Friday night who came off the bench Saturday, delivered a solid all-around effort with nine points, six rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes. … The Salukis visit Loyola next Friday and Saturday for another two-game Valley series. Both games start at 11 a.m.