NORMAL, Ill. -- Sophomore Shronda Butts had team highs of 16 points and three assists, but Bradley couldn't overcome a 31.9 percent shooting night as the Braves fell 81-65 to I-74 rival Illinois State Sunday afternoon at Redbird Arena.
Bradley (6-7 overall, 0-2 MVC) got off to a sluggish start to open the game, making just 2-of-9 from the field as Illinois State used a 10-2 run to jump out to a 14-4 advantage. The Redbirds (10-4 overall, 2-0 MVC) extended the lead to as many as 13 points in the first half.
The Braves pulled within three points (29-26) behind a 12-2 run which included a Michelle Young three-pointer, three-point play by Brooke Bisping and breakaway layup by Jenny Smith. Butts capped the spurt with a driving layup as BU pulled within three with 4:42 to play in the opening period.
Candace Sykes hit a pair of three-pointers in the final minute of the first half to help Illinois State take a 44-36 lead into the break, however.
Bradley, which shot 25.7 percent in the second half, trailed by six after a Young basket early in the period, but the Redbirds answered with 10 consecutive points to push the advantage to 57-41. Catie O'Leary made six consecutive free throws during a 9-0 BU run which trimmed the ISU advantage to 57-50 nearing the midway point of the second half.
Illinois State answered with a 9-0 run of its own to extend the advantage back to 16 (66-50) with just under eight minutes left in the contest and the Braves got no closer down the stretch as the Redbirds earned their 10th consecutive home win in the series with the 81-65 victory.
Butts was joined in double figures by junior guard Kelsey Budd, who added 10 points and six rebounds. Catie O'Leary came off the bench to make 8-of-8 free throw attempts and also had five boards, two blocks, two steals and an assist in 24 minutes. Bisping matched a career-high with seven rebounds, hauling down six offensive boards in the setback.
Senior Katie Yohn moved into a tie with Raisa Taylor for 10th in career scoring at Bradley at 1,133 career points.
Janae Smith led Illinois State with 21 points, 13 rebounds and six assists to pace three ISU players in double figures. Jamie Russell scored 14 of her 18 points in the first half and also had four steals and six boards. Sykes connected on 4-of-11 three-point attempts to finish with 17 points off the bench.
Bradley opens a season-long, three-game home stand Thursday, hosting Wichita State in a 6 p.m. game at Renaissance Coliseum.