Bradley basketball loses to Brown in final seconds at Paradise Jam tournament
One team's loss is another team's gain.
And sometimes, it can be the same team.
Bradley took a tie game against Brown into the final minute, saw a five-point swing on one play, and absorbed a tough loss, 65-62, in the Paradise Jam tournament at St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands.
BOX SCORE: Brown 65, Bradley 62
While the Braves didn't come away with a victory, they did come away with a lot of bright spots about their team that flashed like the sun that beamed through the gym windows and streaked the floor Saturday:
• Graduate guard Mikey Howell can really play.
• Howell and point guard Terry Roberts are an exciting combination on the floor.
• A trio of freshmen were pressed into duty and delivered a combined 22 points and eight rebounds.
• There were signs the team might be emerging from its 3-point slump, with an 8-of-24 effort.
• The team's depth showed well as 13 scholarship players burned minutes in a close game.
"We battled a lot of adversity in the game, I was very proud of this team," Bradley coach Brian Wardle said. "We came out and controlled the second half. Just a few plays here and there.
"Mikey Howell was tremendous. That's the guy we recruited. He's getting more comfortable in his role, and that was a big-time performance by him.
"Zek Montgomery played great, Max Ekono and Connor Hickman, too. Those three freshmen showed great poise and shot the ball well and now we've seen what they can do."
But it came down to this: With the game tied at 59, Bradley senior forward Ja'Shon Henry barged down the lane to the rim with 52.1 seconds left, and his shot was blocked by Dan Friday.
Wardle protested, wanting a foul called, while play continued the other way and Brown's Paxson Wojcik drained a 3-pointer for a 62-59 lead with 45 seconds left.
That left the Braves down three instead of up two. The Bears rode out the final seconds at the free throw line.
"I was just fighting for my guys," said Wardle of his reaction during the game to the play. "They are out there laying it on the line and playing their butts off. You got to let them know you're in this with them.
"Ja-Hen flying to the rim with two guys behind him is a play I'll take 10 out of 10 times, I loved that play."
The Braves logged 14 fouls in the first half, and starters Henry, Terry Roberts, Malevy Leons and Rienk Mast each drew two fouls and had to sit.
That opened the door for freshman Hickman, Ekono and Montgomery, and the trio combined for 22 points and eight rebounds to hold BU in the game.
Howell came off the bench and was terrific with nine points, three rebounds and five assists in a game-high 28 minutes.
More Paradise Jam:Bradley basketball hangs with Colorado State, but loses opener
"I was just trying to trust my shot and kind of show that off and be more aggressive," Howell said. "We didn't get the result we wanted but a lot of guys stepped up. Our freshman played great when we called on them. Once we get this all put together it's going to be a great run.
"They (Brown) hit a few big 3s which put the dagger in us."
Bradley had runs of 9-0 and 9-2 in the second half, with Brown logging a nine-point run in between. Hickman hit a 3 to pull Bradley to within 56-55 with 5:04 left, and then Leons put the Braves into a 57-56 lead with a layup at 4:13.
"You get nothing from being angry with this team," Wardle said. "We're playing better. We're starting to be more connected defensively and offensively we are getting better."
BU will play the loser of the Colorado and Duquesne game at noon on Monday as the tournament concludes. ... The game had one big play in the final minute, but the biggest difference was at the free-throw line, where Brown was 18-of-24 and Bradley was 4-of-8. ... Bradley forwards Rienk Mast and Ja'Shon Henry combined for six points and seven rebounds. ... Braves guard Ville Tahvanainen sat out Saturday against Brown, for rest and maintenance on his foot as he continues his recent return from an injury that had sidelined him six weeks. ... Bradley center Ari Boya played four minutes in the first half before limping off to the bench. But he returned in the second half and played well, finishing with six points, three rebounds and two blocks in 14 minutes ... Brown had only six turnovers in the game. Bradley had just 11. ... Bradley is 8-3 since 2017-18 in the second day of back-to-back tournament games. ... Bradley is 9-1 all-time against Ivy League teams. ... Saturday marked the Braves first meeting with Brown since an 89-62 win in 1961.
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men's basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.