Setting the Bar: Braves win opener over UW-Parkside

Junior center Koch Bar led all scorers with a career high 19 points in a win over UW-Parkside on Wednesday at Carver Arena. Photo by Justin Limoges.

The 2018-19 Bradley men’s basketball team tipped off their season Wednesday night with a 74-58 win over Division II UW-Parkside at Carver Arena.

The first half opened on a 14-2 Bradley run led by sophomore forward Elijah Childs and junior center Koch Bar. Childs finished the game with 17 points and Bar finished the night with a career-high 19 points, 16 coming in the first half.

Head coach Brian Wardle said he was proud after watching Bar’s performance and offensive contributions to the game.

“[He] played strong but there’s still a lot of things he can do,” Wardle said. “The upside is very high for Koch … He’s improved every year kind of steadily.”

The Braves led 23-10 at the 10-minute mark, but Parkside did not go quietly despite their poor start. A couple Bradley turnovers and Parkside 3-pointers narrowed the lead to 28-26 at with 5:40 left in the first half.

The two-point separation was the closest the game ever got as the Bradley defense only allowed one more Parkside basket in the rest of the first half. The Braves went into the locker room up 40-28.

In the second half, junior point guard Darrell Brown expanded on the lead by tallying the first five Bradley field goals. Brown’s scoring sparked the Braves’ offense.

“[Brown] came out in the second half aggressive,” senior guard Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye said. “He wasn’t hesitant. He took the shots he takes every day and the shots we need him to take. He’s a guy who can score in bunches and guys can’t guard him.”

The Braves dominated the boards, out-rebounding Parkside 43-25. Lautier-Ogunleye and Childs led all players with eight rebounds apiece. They also tallied four steals each, a career high for both players.

“We took a little bit of adversity,” Lautier-Ogunleye said. “We were able to get killstreaks, which is three stops in a row, and then from there we were able to break in transition and get easy baskets. That’s what gave us energy and momentum and allowed us to break ahead [in the first half].”

Wardle still emphasized defense as Bradley’s biggest flaw in the game. According to him, it was one reason that Parkside came within two points, along with sloppy play on the offensive end.

“We executed the game plan offensively and getting the ball inside … but we had way too many turnovers,” Wardle said. “We played out of character at times but that’s what this kind of first game is.”

Ultimately, Wardle was happy with the win but aware of issues in the team’s performance.

“Parkside did a great job of exposing us and exposed some of our weaknesses and they gave us some adversity, some tough times to fight through. We just got to play better,” Wardle said.

In regards to the injury status of senior forward Luuk van Bree, Wardle described the recovery as “day by day” and that van Bree was slowly getting more comfortable.

Bradley will play their next game of the season against Southeast Missouri State at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Carver Arena.

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