FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. --Bradley’s bench combined for 38 points on 13-of-21 shooting and five BU players reached double figures to help the Braves top Northern Arizona 83-66 Friday night during the first day of play at the NAU Thanksgiving Classic. BU shot nearly 70 percent in the second half en route to the highest scoring output in a road game since Dec. 2004.
The Braves (4-1 overall) held a five-point lead at the half (32-27), but Northern Arizona (1-5 overall) trailed by just three points with just 10 minutes left in the contest. Freshman guard Michelle Lund (Sioux City, Iowa/Bishop Heelan) was limited to just four minutes in the second half, but helped spark a 12-point BU run with a pair of free throws. Fellow freshman Hanna Muegge (Hopkins, Minn./Hopkins) followed with four consecutive free throws and senior Monica Rogers (Forsyth, Ill./St. Teresa/Hampton) capped the run with a three-point play to give Bradley a 64-52 lead with 8:30 remaining.
The Lumberjacks got to within 10 points (68-58), before the Braves were able to put the game out of reach with a 15-4 spurt. Rogers scored four consecutive points to open the final run and Lund followed with her third three-pointer of the second half. Freshman Leah Kassing (Mt. Sterling, Ill./Brown County) later pushed the BU lead to 20 points with her fifth basket of the night and the Braves cruised to the 83-66 road victory.
Head coach Paula Buscher picked up her 100th win on the BU bench in the first head-to-head matchup with her former graduate assistant Laurie Kelly. Kelly was a graduate assistant under Buscher at Minnesota State-Mankato.
The Braves turned in their best offensive outing of the season, shooting a blistering 55.8 percent from the field. Bradley connected on 16-of-23 shots in the second half, and made 16-of-17 second-half free throw attempts as BU outscored Northern Arizona 51-39 after the intermission.
Rogers paced five Bradley players in double figures with a game-high 12 points and also had a game-high seven rebounds. Lund, Kassing and freshman MacKenzie Westcott (Williamsburg, Iowa/Williamsburg) each added 11 points, while senior Kelly Krumwiede (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West) tossed in 10 points. Kassing and Westcott combined for 22 of the Braves’ 38 bench points and were a perfect 9-for-9 from the field. Kassing added three boards, one assist, three blocks and a steal, while Westcott had four rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes of play.
Bradley’s 4-1 start to the season is the best start to a season since opening the 2001-02 campaign with a perfect 9-0 record. The Braves outrebounded an opponent for the fifth time in as many games, posting a 42-28 edge on the glass.
Northern Arizona shot 40.3 percent from the field and made just 5-of-16 three-point attempts. The Lumberjacks struggled from the line, shooting just 46.7 percent as Bradley held a 26-15 edge in free throw attempts. Sade Cunningham and Katie Schafer tied for team-high honors with 11 points to lead NAU. Lauren Hoisington added 10 points in the loss.
Bradley returns to action Saturday when the Braves face UC Riverside at 2:05 p.m. in the championship game of the NAU Thanksgiving Classic. The game will be broadcast via the internet at www.bradleybraves.com and live stats will be available on the Northern Arizona Athletics website.