PEORIA, Ill. – Walt Lemon Jr. led five Braves in double-figures with a team-high 15 points and Bradley (4-1) pulled away in the final 11 minutes for an 80-57 victory against Tennessee-Martin (2-4) Saturday afternoon at Carver Arena.
Senior forward Jake Eastman added 14 points, the most in a home game during his Bradley career, while the Braves also got 13 points and nine rebounds from Will Egolf, a career-best tying 12 points off the bench from Jalen Crawford and 11 points from Dyricus Simms-Edwards. The five players scoring in double figures were the most for Bradley since Dec. 22, 2011 at #19 Michigan.
Myles Taylor led the visiting Skyhawks with 17 points and nine rebounds, before fouling out with 4:41 remaining. Mike Liabo scored 15 off the UTM bench and Justin Childs scored 12.
Both teams endured a cold-shooting night most of the game and the Braves were leading just 36-33 after two Liabo free throws with 14:13 remaining. The Braves scored 44 points in the final 13:41, though, a stretch started by an Eastman corner 3-pointer.
After Taylor sliced Bradley’s lead wto 45-37 with 11:28 left, Lemon converted back-to-back layups, the second as part of a 3-point play, to ignite an 11-0 run that finally broke the game open and the Braves eventually pushed their advantage to 28 points, 80-52, on consecutive 3-pointers by walk-on guards Jimmy Gavin and Mason Alwan.
The closing push allowed Bradley to climb over 40 percent shooting from the field for the game (25-60, .417). The Braves overcame their own cold shooting by limiting UT-Martin to 32.8 percent (19-58) and outrebounding the Skyhawks, 45-35.
Saturday’s game started a 6-game stretch that will see the Braves play in front of the home fans at Carver Arena five times. Following Wednesday’s 6 p.m. (CT) game at Central Michigan, Bradley will start a 4-game home stand next Saturday by hosting #4 Michigan in a 3 p. m. game at Carver Arena. The Wolverines (5-0) figure to be the highest-ranked team to ever play at Carver Arena and will be the highest-ranked team to visit the Braves since #2 Wichita State left Robertson Fieldhouse with a 55-47 loss Jan. 9, 1982.
Individual tickets for Saturday’s game against the Wolverines, as well as the Jan. 29 home game versus Interstate 74 rival Illinois State, will go on sale Monday at the Renaissance Coliseum Box Office (309-677-2625), the Carver Arena Box Office, all TicketMaster outlets and online at BradleyBraves.com. Tickets for the Michigan and Illinois State games will be available at $22, $15 and $8 prices and also may still be purchased as part of the FAN-tastic 4-Pack, a multi-game pack that also includes the Jan. 6 game versus Wichita State, for $60 (lower bowl) or $35 (upper bowl).