PEORIA, Ill. - While the backcourt stars from both teams combined for 79 points, Bradley junior forward Tyshon Pickett proved to be the difference, leading the host Braves (14-10, 6-6 MVC) to a 76-70 Missouri Valley Conference victory versus Evansville (13-11, 6-6 MVC) Tuesday night at Carver Arena.
Pickett scored 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting, snared a team-high eight rebounds and blocked two shots, pushing Bradley into a 3-way tie for fourth in The Valley standings with the Purple Aces and Northern Iowa, who will visit Carver Arena Sunday afternoon.
Colt Ryan scored a game-high 27 points, highlighted by a 4-minute, 26-second stretch spanning halftime that saw him score 17 points on 7-for-7 shooting from the field. In his other 33 minutes, however, Ryan was 3-for-15 from the field. DJ Balentine added 13 points off the bench for Evansville, while Ned Cox chipped in with 10 for the Purple Aces.
Bradley countered the 40-point combo from Ryan and Balentine with 21 points from senior guard Dyricus Simms-Edwards and 18 points from junior guard Walt Lemon, Jr. Lemon, who added six rebounds, five assists and two steals, split two free throws with 1:16 remaining to give the Braves the lead for good, 71-70.
The Braves made 5-of-6 free throw attempts in the final 59 seconds, while Evansville missed its final five field goal attempts. The most notable miss down the stretch came with 36 seconds left and Bradley leading 72-70. Jaylon Moore appeared to be clear for a 2-handed dunk on a back-door play, but Bradley center Will Egolf blocked the dunk from behind and grabbed the rebound. Simms-Edwards was fouled later in the Bradley possession and made two free throws with 16 seconds left for a 4-point separation, 74-70.
The Braves jumped out to an early 16-4 lead with 12:29 left in the first half, but Evansville came roaring back to take a 33-32 lead in to the locker room. After an 0-for-5 start from the field, Ryan scored 12 points in a span of just 2-minutes, 49-seconds to push the Purple Aces ahead.
After Ryan continued his outburst with the first five points of the second half, Bradley answered with a 20-4 run over the next 6:27, pulling ahead 55-44 with 10:37 left.
Bradley, which improved to 11-2 at home this year, has just three games remaining at Carver Arena in the regular season. The Braves will host UNI in a 2 p.m. game Sunday, then will play four of its final six regular-season games on the road.