PEORIA, Ill. -- Bradley overcame a hot start by Eastern Illinois to erase a 16-point first-half Panther lead, but EIU held the Braves scoreless the final 2:29 of the game and escaped Renaissance Coliseum with a 71-67 victory Wednesday afternoon despite a career-high 23 points from senior Kelly Frings (Milwaukee, Wis./Pius XI).
Eastern Illinois (3-5 overall) made 11-of-14 shots to open the contest and jumped out to a 27-11 lead less than seven minutes into the contest. Bradley (2-5 overall), which had just seven players in uniform for the game, buckled down on defense the remainder of the period and limited the Panthers to 4-for-25 shooting over the final 13 minutes of the first half.
Frings opened a 19-2 Bradley run with a three-pointer and went on to collect 10 of her 23 points during the spurt which put the Braves in front 30-29 with six minutes left before halftime. A Kelsey Budd (Prairie de Sac, Wis./Sauk Prairie) three with 1:29 on the clock gave BU its largest lead of the game, but Sabina Oroszova answered with a three-pointer of her own for Eastern Illinois and the teams went into the locker room tied at 37-37.
Bradley held a 49-47 lead at the 13-minute mark of the second half following a Frings three-pointer, but EIU hit a three on its next possession to go back in front and the Panthers extended the advantage to six (63-57) with just under six minutes left to play.
Sophomore Fantasia Vine (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton North) later had a steal and layup to pull Bradley within three at 67-64 with 4:22 on the clock and senior Alyson Spinas-Valainis (Davenport, Iowa/Assumption) split a pair of free throws after another Vine steal to make it a two-point EIU lead 67-65 with 3:48 to play.
After an EIU basket, Frings made a pair of free throws with 2:29 left to pull Bradley within two 69-67, but those were the last points of the night for the Braves. Bradley held Eastern Illinois scoreless on its next four possessions, but the Braves failed to score during that span and BU missed the front end of a one-and-one with 41.1 seconds left. Oroszova, who scored a Renaissance Coliseum record 38 points, made a pair of free throws with 10.7 seconds left to seal the 71-67 victory for the Panthers.
Bradley committed a season-low 10 turnovers, but the Braves shot just 30.3 percent from the field in the second half and 37.5 percent for the contest. Frings made 7-of-11 shots from the field, including 4-of-6 three-point attempts and finished with 23 points. Budd added 19 points, six rebounds and six assists in 40 minutes of action. Spinas-Valainis finished with 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Oroszova connected on 16-of-29 from the field and tied the Eastern Illinois single-game scoring record with 38 points. She also had 15 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Katlyn Payne hit 5-of-10 three-point attempts and finished with 15 points to join Oroszova as the only EIU players with more than six points.
Bradley plays its last game before semester finals Sunday when the Braves travel to Columbia, Mo., for a 2 p.m. contest at Missouri.