PEORIA, Ill. -- If in theory it is difficult to win a college basketball game on a cold-shooting night, Bradley proved the point Wednesday night, when the Braves (5-3) dropped their first on-campus home game since the 1982 MVC Tournament in a 72-66 loss to IUPUI (2-7) at Renaissance Coliseum.
Bradley, which had been 5-0 in the on-campus facility since it opened in 2010, shot just 31.3 percent (21-67) from the field, 13.6 percent (3-22) from 3-point range and 67.7 percent (21-31) from the free throw line, cold numbers that offset 23 offensive rebounds, a +14 rebound margin (48-34), just 11 turnovers and 10 steals. Bradley's 23 offensive rebounds were the most by the Braves since snaring 24 in a 69-67 overtime loss at Wichita State Dec. 30, 2005.
The loss snapped Bradley's 7-game overall home winning streak, Bradley's streak of 10 straight non-conference home wins and Bradley's run of eight consecutive on-campus home victories, the latter streak dating back to a 55-50 setback to rival Illinois State March 4, 1982 in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Robertson Memorial Fieldhouse.
The Jaguars, who entered the game having suffered five of their seven losses by single digits, built a 35-22 halftime lead to 15 points on the first possession of the second half, then held off Bradley's comeback attempt. The Braves closed to within 58-56 with 2:42 remaining with a chance to make it a one-point game by completing a 3-point play, but a missed Tyshon Pickett free throw was followed by an 8-0 IUPUI run to all but close out the win.
Ian Chiles led the Jaguars with a game-high 20 points, while Khufu Najee chipped in 19 points and six assists and Donavan Gibbs added 13 points of the IUPUI bench. Omari Grier led the Braves with 17 points, despite a 3-for-13 effort from the field. Walt Lemon, Jr. and Pickett both added 13 points, but the duo combined to shoot 9-for-31 from the floor, and Auston Barnes added 11 points off the bench. Barnes, Pickett and Jordan Prosser all shared team-high honors with eight rebounds.
Najee scored the first seven points of the game, leading IUPUI to a 7-0 start. Bradley managed to pull ahead, 14-11, on a Prosser bucket in the paint with 11:25 left in the first half, but Gibbs answered with a 3-pointer and Mitch Patton followed with a short jumper for a lasting IUPUI lead, 16-14, with 9:49 left in the period.
After Prosser's go-ahead bucket, Bradley's final 17 possessions of the first half resulted in 2-for-12 shooting from the field and 4-for-8 shooting at the free throw line with four turnovers mixed in, a closing stretch that gradually allowed the Jaguars to build their 35-22 halftime lead. Bradley finished the first half shooting just 7-for-27 (.259) from the field, including 1-for-8 from 3-point range, and 7-for-12 (.583) from the free throw line.
The numbers only marginally improved in the second half, when Bradley made 14-of-40 (.350) field goal attempts, 2-of-14 (.143) 3-point tries, but 14-of-19 (.737) free throw attempts.
After suffering its first home loss of the season, Bradley will try to rebound with its first road win of the year Saturday when the Braves visit Milwaukee, who improved to 8-2 on the season Tuesday night with an 83-72 win against Bradley's MVC rival Northern Iowa. Though the Panthers play the bulk of their home games at U.S. Cellular Arena in downtown Milwaukee, Saturday's 3 p.m. game will be played on campus at the Klotsche Center.