PEORIA, Ill. – Cleanthony Early scored a game-high 24 points, including a second-chance 3-pointer that gave Wichita State the lead for good with 3:23 remaining, lifting the visiting Shockers (14-1, 3-0 MVC) to a 69-63 Missouri Valley Conference win Sunday evening at Bradley.
Wichita State improved to 22-4 on the road since the start of the 2010-11 season and earned its third straight win in Peoria and sixth straight overall against the Braves, its longest such winning streaks in the 133-game history of the rivalry. The Shockers had won the previous five games in the series by an average of 25.2 points, including both games last year by 35 and 39 point margins, but Sunday’s final score proved to be the largest lead for either team.
Walt Lemon, Jr. and Dyricus Simms-Edwards each scored 15 points to pace Bradley
(10-5, 2-1 MVC), while Jake Eastman scored 11 and Tyshon Pickett added 10
points for the Braves. Lemon also pulled
down a career-best eight rebounds and dished out five assists. Demetric Williams was Wichita State’s only
other double-digit scorer with 10 points.
Ehimen Orukpe grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and had three timely
blocked shots for the Shockers.
In a game that featured 10 ties and 12 lead changes, Bradley grabbed its final lead when Pickett’s steal sprung Simms-Edwards for a transition basket. The Bradley guard completed an old-fashioned 3-point play by making the free throw after the final media timeout for a 61-59 lead with 3:55 remaining.
Early missed a 3-point try on the ensuing Wichita State possession, but Tekele Cotton was able to hustle down the ball in the corner and threw a high lob toward midcourt, where Malcolm Armstead beat Pickett and Lemon to the ball. With Bradley scrambling to recover, Early knocked down his second 3-point try for a 62-61 Wichita State lead with 3:23 left.
Simms-Edwards missed a 3-point try at the other end and the long rebound sprung Early for a breakaway dunk and a 64-61 lead. Lemon got the Braves to within 64-63 on a pull-up jumper with 2:07 left and the score remained that way until the Shockers ran a midcourt inbounds play with 24.2 seconds left. Demetric Williams broke free on a missed defensive switch and converted an old-fashioned 3-point play for a back-breaking, 67-63 lead.
Another missed 3-pointer from Bradley created one final runout for the Shockers, who completed the scoring on Cotton’s dunk with 5 seconds left.
With Wichita State and Creighton tied atop The Valley standings with identical overall and league records, Bradley drops into a four-way tie for third as it prepares to play four of its next six games on the road. The Braves will face one of those tied teams Wednesday when they visit Indiana State (9-5, 2-1 MVC) in a 6:05 p.m. game, followed by a Saturday afternoon trek to Northern Iowa (8-7, 1-2 MVC).