Bradley falls 66-43 to No. 11 Wisconsin
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill.—Geno Ford saw few positives in Bradley's 66-43 loss to No. 11 Wisconsin at the Chicago Invitational Challenge on Friday night.
But Bradley's first-year coach does know a couple of things he plans to have his Braves work on: making fewer turnovers and capitalizing on opportunities.
"We played hard enough tonight to win, we didn't play smart enough or well enough," Ford said. "That's the piece. We've got to keep the effort, but get a little smarter and then execute."
The Badgers (5-0) scored 18 points off Braves turnovers to gain a championship date with BYU at the suburban Chicago Sears Centre on Saturday. Bradley will play Nevada for third.
Taylor Brown scored 18 points for Bradley (3-2), which has dropped two straight.
Ryan Evans, Jordan Taylor and Josh Gasser had 15 points apiece for Wisconsin, while center Jared Berggren grabbed 10 rebounds.
Wisconsin never trailed in the teams' first meeting since 1989.
Bradley had 17 turnovers and shot just 34 percent (18 of 53) from the field. Wisconsin hit 25 of 59 from the field (42.4 percent).
Wisconsin established a 10-2 lead as five different players scored in the first 3 minutes, 34 seconds. Bradley replied with Dyricus Simms-Edwards' 3-pointer and Jordan Prosser's baseline drive to cut the lead to 10-7.
The Badgers then rattled off a 13-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back 3 pointers from Traevon Jackson and Ben Brust, and Taylor's steal and feed to Berggren for a jam and a 23-9 advantage.
A Bradley surge trimmed Wisconsin's lead to 30-22 with 1:33 left in the half, but Gasser and Taylor scored in the final minute to push the Badger lead to 34-24.
"We kind of had a first-half lapse where they got a couple of easy buckets in transition and we got away from our defensive rules," Gasser said. "But overall we played pretty well. We moved the ball well, we got good shots, we knocked them down when we needed to.
"And defensively we were solid all night. We weren't great, but we were good enough."
After the opening minute of the second half, the Badgers restored and maintained double-digit leads the rest of the way. Taylor's 3-pointer with 4:34 to play opened a 64-41 lead, the largest of the night before reserves came in to wrap up play.
Despite playing in adjacent states, the teams met for just the fifth time Friday. That's partly due to Wisconsin's policy of not playing nonconference games against teams with Native American mascots and nicknames.
The Braves removed all direct references and stopped using a Native American mascot in 1994. The teams last met in 1989, a 63-57 Badger victory in the San Juan Shootout. The Badgers now have a 3-2 series lead.
Wisconsin, 16th in last week's AP Top 25, is off to a 5-0 start for the second time under coach Bo Ryan. The Badgers won their first five games in 2007-08.
Ryan is now second on Wisconsin's all-time wins list (247-91) and just 18 away from tying Bud Foster's school record for victories.
Following Saturday's games, Wisconsin is at top-ranked North Carolina on Wednesday. Bradley is idle until Dec. 3, when it travels to Wyoming as part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.