PEORIA, Ill. -- In a remarkable twist of fate, freshman guard Sam Maniscalco gave Bradley a one-point lead with 10.4 seconds remaining and senior guard Jeremy Crouch came up with a steal on the defensive end then dribbled out the clock, helping the Braves (9-10, 2-5) snap a five-game home losing streak with a 77-76 Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball victory versus visiting Evansville (5-12, 0-7) Saturday night at Carver Arena.
Just three days ago, Maniscalco drained a deep 3-point basket with 10.7 seconds remaining to give the Braves a one-point lead versus Valley leading Drake, only to see the Bulldogs make a buzzer-beating basket to pull out a 69-68 win at Carver Arena.
Maniscalco and Crouch were not the only heroes Saturday night against
Saturday’s game featured 10 lead changes, including eight in the second half and five in the final 3-minutes, 54-seconds. Crouch’s fourth trey of the night from the left corner gave Bradley a 71-70 lead with 3:54 remaining, but Ely scored on a difficult drive down the lane for a 72-71 Evansville lead with 3:27 to go.
The score did not change until Wilson hit a free throw line jumper in the middle of Evansville’s zone to a 73-72 Bradley lead with 1:49 left. Ely converted on a swooping drive across the lane to again give the visitors the lead, 74-73, with 1:14 to go. It appeared the game might slip away from the Braves after Holsing made two free throws for a 76-73 cushion with 27 seconds left, but after senior center Matt Salley finished off a feed from Maniscalco for an easy layup with 20 seconds to go, Holsinger missed the front end of a 1-and-bonus trip to the line to open the door for the Bradley.
Maniscalco drove down the right side of the lane and was fouled by Holsinger. The freshman calmly sank both of the resulting free throws for the final margin. On Evansville’s final possession, Maniscalco pressured Holsinger to the right sideline, where the Evansville point guard lost the handle going around a screen and Crouch stepped in for the game-deciding steal.
Although Evansville shot 51.0 percent (25-49) from the field for the game, including 11-for-17 (.647) from 3-point range, the Purple Aces managed to snare just two offensive rebounds. Bradley outrebounded its visitors 34-31. More notably, the Braves finished with 23 assists on their 25 field goals and committed just 11 turnovers.
Bradley will conclude its season-long three-game home stand Wednesday by hosting Interstate 74 rival Illinois State in a 7:05 p.m. tip from Carver Arena. A limited number of tickets remain for the rivalry game and may be purchased in person at the Robertson Fieldhouse Box Office, the Carver Arena Box Office or online at www.BradleyBraves.com.