Season opening jitters were evident at the start, but once they retook the lead with 2:15 left in the first half, Bradley Central's Bearettes had little trouble putting away fellow 2018 TSSAA …
Season opening jitters were evident at the start, but once they retook the lead with 2:15 left in the first half, Bradley Central's Bearettes had little trouble putting away fellow 2018 TSSAA Final Four participant Baylor Tuesday evening.
Bradley ran its current home winning streak to 57 games by nearly doubling up the Lady Red Raiders 59-30 in a pull-away victory.
"We may have set a record, putting up 42 3-point shots, but that's what they were giving us," remarked head coach Jason Reuter after pushing his coaching record to 234-29 as he opened his ninth season as the "Papa Bear."
"We shot poorly (only 27 percent overall), but we still won by 29 points. Missing that many shots (43 total) gave us a lot of put-back opportunities (19 second chance points). Our girls grabbed 24 offensive rebounds, which is unheard of in 32 minutes."
Bradley will return to the Smiddy Arena hardwood Thursday in search of the storied program's state-leading 2,200 overall victory, since its start in 1922.
The Bearettes will be joined by the Bears in their season opener, as William Blount comes calling for a TSSAA Hall of Champions double-dip.
It took eight tries before a Bearette found the bottom of the net Tuesday, but senior Hannah Lombard's trey from the side of the circle, 2 1/2 minutes into the contest got things rolling.
Baylor answered with 10 straight points for a strong early lead, but Bradley sophomore Jamia Williams "provided a spark off the bench" with a long-range bomb, a steal and a pair of free throws, after being fouled on the transition. The span trimmed the deficit to just two points with 13 ticks left on the opening period clock.
The teams jockeyed back-and-fourth for the first six minutes of the second quarter before the Black-and-Gold drained a trio of treys as part of an 11-1 run to close the half.
Junior Anna Walker opened the second half with one of her four 3-balls on the night to push the home advantage to double digits and it never dipped back down again.
"Anna did a good job of not getting in foul trouble. We need her on the floor," Reuter said of the Samford commit. "She rushed a few of her 3s, but overall had a good night."
The 6-foot swing player led the Bearettes with 14 points, plus cleaned the glass for seven caroms, blocked two shots and copped a couple of steals.
After stretching their lead to 39-26 at the end of the third frame, the Bearettes outscored the visitors 20-4 in the final eight minutes.
Junior Alexis Barnes came off the bench to snatch 10 rebounds, eight coming off the offensive glass, plus the 6-footer netted a half dozen points and blocked a shot.
Williams garnered eight markers, including 5-of-6 from the charity line, plus pulled down three ricochets, dished out a trio of helps and copped a couple of steals.
"Alexis and Jamia really gave us a lift off when they came in," praised Reuter. "We didn't miss a beat with them."
Sophomore Jamaryn Blair helped out with nine points, three boards and a trio of thefts, while senior Anna Roberts netted six points, copped three steals and dropped a pair of "dimes" on her 18th birthday.
The Bearettes won the battle of the boards 42-33, plus had just a half dozen turnovers, while having 11 steals as part of 21 Lady Raider miscues.
While Bradley was 11-of-42 from distance (26.2 percent) and 5-for-17 (29.4) from inside the arc, Baylor was 7-of-26 (26.9) in front of the arc and 1-for-4 beyond it.
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