Basketball (W)

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Braves End Road Swing At NAU Thanksgiving Classic
Release: Sunday 11/21/2012 
by BradleyBraves.com

PEORIA, Ill. -- Bradley's season-long, five-game road swing comes to an end Friday and Saturday with the Braves traveling to Flagstaff, Ariz., for the Northern Arizona Thanksgiving Classic. 

BU (2-2 overall) face Conference USA preseason favorite Tulane (3-0 overall) in the opening round Friday at 5 p.m. (CST), with the winner of that matchup taking on Western Michigan (1-2 overall) or tournament-host Northern Arizona (0-4 overall) in Saturday's championship at 5 p.m. (CST).  The consolation game will be played at 3 p.m. (CST) Saturday afternoon at the Rolle Activity Center.

BradleyBraves.com will provide a link to live stats in addition to a free audio stream of both games in Flagstaff, Ariz.  Friday's pre-game show on WIRL 1290 AM is scheduled to begin at approximately 4:40 p.m. (CST). 

The trip to Arizona is Bradley's third to the Grand Canyon State and the Braves return to Flagstaff, Ariz., for the first time since winning the 2008-09 Northern Arizona Thanksgiving Classic.  Overall, BU is 4-0 all-time in games played in Arizona, also winning the 1996-97 Sun Devil Classic in Tempe, Ariz.

Bradley looks to get back into the win column after suffering a 50-60 loss at Big East Conference member South Florida Tuesday.  The shorthanded Braves were without senior guard Katie Yohn (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward), who missed the game due to injury.  The loss snapped a seven-game win streak in regular-season non-conference road games for BU.

Friday's matchup with Tulane is the first meeting between the two teams and Bradley is looking for its first win against a current member of Conference USA (0-4 all time).  The Braves are 1-0 all-time against Northern Arizona, winning on the road against the Lumberjacks in the team's only other trip to Flagstaff, Ariz.  A potential meeting with Western Michigan, would be the first for the two programs since 1998-99.  Bradley is 3-1 all-time against the Broncos, having won the last two matchups.

Tulane will be BU's fourth opponent in five games, which advanced to the 2011-12 WNIT.  Saturday's matchup with either Western Michigan or Northern Arizona will mark Bradley's third game in six outings against a first-year head coach.  In addition, it will wrap up a stretch in which Bradley will have played six games in a 26-day stretch. 

Freshman Jenny Smith (Pewaukee, Wis./Arrowhead) notched her first career double-double Tuesday at USF, collecting 11 points and 12 rebounds.  Smith is the first BU freshman to record a double-double since MacKenzie Westcott had 15 points and 10 boards against SIU Edwardsville on Dec. 18, 2008. 

Friday's game will mark Bradley's third game in three outings in different time zones, marking the first time the Braves have played in a different time zone in three consecutive contests.  Following Saturday's game in Flagstaff, Ariz., BU is scheduled to leave the Central Time Zone just one more time - Jan. 4 at Indiana State.

Four of Bradley's top five scorers this season in total points call the state of Wisconsin home.  The Braves have not had a player from outside the state of Illinois lead the team in scoring since Missouri native Dena Williams averaged 13.3 points per game in 2004-05.  Paced by junior Catie O'Leary's (Janesville, Wis./Parker/Wisconsin) team-best 11.8 points-per-game average, BU's four Wisconsin natives have combined for 58 percent of Bradley's scoring this year.  O'Leary scored her 400th career point at BU Tuesday at USF and needs 20 points to break into the top 60 in career scoring at Bradley.

Junior guard Kelsey Budd (Prairie du Sac, Wis./Sauk Prairie) scored all 11 of her points Tuesday in the second half and is averaging 14.0 points per game during Bradley's three-game road swing.  Sophomore guard Shronda Butts (Des Moines, Iowa/East) made her first start of the season in Tampa, Fla., in place of Yohn, and scored a team-best 13 points.  Butts leads the team in assists (3.3 apg) and has paced the team in scoring in back-to-back games. 

After playing five of the first six games of the season away from home, Bradley returns to Renaissance Coliseum for three of the next four contests.  The Braves open the stretch Wednesday, Nov. 28 with a 6 p.m. against Northern Illinois.

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