CEDAR FALLS, IOWA (HOI) -- Due to positive COVID-19 tests in the Bradley program, the Braves hadn't played a game since Dec. 22. After a long 19 days, Bradley was finally able to play another game, starting off Missouri Valley Conference play with a two-game set on the road against Northern Iowa.
With so much time off no one knew what to expect from the Braves, but the team seemed to be able to shake off the rust quickly, leading for much of the first half until Northern Iowa tied things up heading into the break.
In the second half it was more of the same, a back-and-forth contest with Bradley (6-4, 0-1) taking a 55-51 lead before Northern Iowa (3-7, 2-1) went on a 13-4 run that carried them to a 78-72 win.
"I think we're gonna take teams best shots a lot and teams are gonna play and be excited to play us and every possession matters and we gotta be mentally dialed in. I just thought we kind of wore down a little bit the last 10 minutes with a lot of mistakes the last 10 minutes of the game, so that's what hurt us," said Bradley Head Coach Brian Wardle.
Junior guard Terry Nolan Jr.'s last game played was in Bradley's Dec. 19 win over Miami (OH), due to having an emergency appendectomy. Despite the longer layoff for Nolan Jr. he led the Braves in scoring with 17 points (5-13 FG, 5-9 3PT) to go with 5 assists and 2 steals.
Senior forward Elijah Childs tallied 15 points (6-13 FG) and 9 rebounds. Redshirt freshman forward Rienk Mast provided a big boost with Ari Boya out, Mast had a career-high 14 points (5-11 FG, 3-6 3PT) and 6 rebounds. Sophomore guard Sean East II added in 13 points (5-12 FG), 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Bradley wraps up its series with Northern Iowa on Monday Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.