PEORIA, Ill. -- Bradley used an early 15-0 run to pull away from Southern Illinois and never looked back as the Braves extended their season-long win streak to six games with a 73-49 victory against Southern Illinois Friday night at Lorene Ramsey Gym. Junior Jenny Van Kirk (Waconia, Minn./Waconia) scored a team-high points 12 points as all 14 Bradley players which saw action in the game scored.
The Braves (12-2 overall, 3-0 MVC) got off to a quick start, forcing 10 SIU turnovers in the first 10 minutes of action en route to an early 23-4 lead. Bradley pushed the lead to as many as 27 points in the first half and took a 43-16 lead into the break. BU forced 16 Southern Illinois turnovers in the first half and limited the Salukis to 25 percent shooting from the field. The Braves shot 54.8 percent in the opening 20 minutes, including 5-for-8 from beyond the arc.
Van Kirk collected six points, an assist, one steal and a rebound to highlight the Braves 15-0 run and finished the opening half of play with 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting and added five boards, two assists and two steals.
Sophomore Raisa Taylor (Decatur, Ill./Eisenhower) scored six consecutive points early in the second half to help the Braves extend the lead to as many as 33 points. Southern Illinois (4-7 overall, 0-2 MVC) never cut BU’s lead under 20 as Bradley cruised to the 73-49 victory.
Van Kirk finished with team highs of 12 points and six rebounds to go along with three assists and two steals as she was the only Bradley player to see more than 20 minutes of game time. Sophomore Sonya Harris (Riverdale, Ill./Thornton) played just nine minutes, but finished with 10 points, six boards and one blocked shot. Freshman Hanna Muegge (Hopkins, Minn./Hopkins) added 10 points off the bench and two steals in 15 minutes to become the 12th different BU player to score in double figures this season.
With the victory the Braves matched last year’s overall win total and are now off to a program-best 12-2 start to the season. The 3-0 start to Missouri Valley Conference play is the best since the 1990-91 season and matches the best start to league play in school history. Bradley also extended its win streak to six games and has won four consecutive regular-season Missouri Valley Conference contests dating back to last season.
The Braves held the Salukis to 31.3 percent shooting and outrebounded SIU 47-30, marking the 14th consecutive game Bradley has outrebounded its opponent. BU held a commanding 42-14 edge in points in the paint and collected 23 second chance points after hauling down 20 offensive rebounds.
Jasmine Gibson led Southern Illinois with 12 points and nine rebounds in 37 minutes of work. Lacie Ward was the only other Saluki to score more than six points, scoring all nine of her points in the second half.
Bradley returns to action Sunday when the Braves play host to Evansville at 2:05 p.m. at Lorene Ramsey Gym in East Peoria, Ill.