FORT MYERS, Fla. – Four Bradley players combined to knock down 13 3-point field goals, including 6 by senior Nate Kennell, as the Braves shot 50 percent from the field en route to a 73-60 win over Kansas State in the third-place game of the Fort Myers Tipoff on Wednesday night at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena.
Kennell led four Bradley players in double figures, as he scored a game-high 22 points on 7-of-11 field goals, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range, as the Braves connected on 56.5 percent (13-of-23) from long range. Fellow senior Darrell Brown, Jr. knocked down four triples and accounted for 16 points, while Kansas City, Mo., native and junior Elijah Childs and sophomore Ja’Shon Henry added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
K-State (4-2), which never led in the second half, closed to within 55-49 with 7:50 to play on a layup by sophomore Shaun Williams, but Bradley (5-2) responded with 3-pointers on its next two possession to push the game into double figures with 5:52 to play. The Wildcats again got to within 63-56 on a layup by junior Cartier Diarra with 4:12 remaining, but the Braves connected on their 13th and final triple of the night to halt any further comeback.
Senior Xavier Sneed was one of three players in double figures, as he led the way with a near double-double with 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting to go with team-high 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in nearly 38 minutes. Junior Mike McGuirl and Williams each registered double-digits for the first time this year with 10 points each. Diarra tied career-highs for assists (8) and steals (5) to go with a season-high 6 rebounds and 6 points.
The shooting display by Bradley was in stark contrast to its 78-51 loss to Northwestern on Monday, in which, the Braves connected on just 33.3 percent (16-of-48) from the field, including 30 percent (3-of-10) from 3-point range.
The two teams combined for 11 lead changes in the first half before Bradley took the lead for good on a Kennell 3-pointer with 1:10 before halftime. K-State had an opportunity right before the half to regain the lead right before the half but fumbled a pass on a steal, as the Braves took a 38-37 lead into halftime.
The Wildcats missed another big opportunity in the opening minutes of the second half, as neither team scored in the first 3 minutes before Kennell connected on consecutive 3-pointers to expand the lead to 44-37 at the 15:04 to play. During this key stretch, the team combined to miss four shots and turn the ball over three times.
For the game, K-State shot 40 percent (24-of-60), including 19 percent (4-of-21) from 3-point range, and made just 8-of-13 free throw attempts. Despite allowing 50 percent shooting from the field, the Wildcats did turn the Braves over 23 times, including 13 steals, scoring 22 points off those miscues.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After senior Makol Mawien scored the game’s first points on a turnaround jumper, Bradley took the offensive in the early going, using a 7-0 run to take a 14-6 lead after a 3-pointer by junior Danya Kingsby.
K-State responded with an 11-2 run over the next 90 seconds to take a 17-16 advantage at the 13:29 mark on a 3-point play by senior Xavier Sneed. During the run, junior Mike McGuirl connected on consecutive 3-pointers.
The Braves countered with a 7-3 spurt to take a 23-20 edge on a 3-pointer from senior Nate Kennell then withstood a mini 5-0 run by the Wildcats to take a 26-25 advantage into the third media timeout at the 7:39 mark.
A jumper by Sneed plus baskets by freshmen Antonio Gordon and DaJuan Gordon enabled K-State to regain the lead at 31-29 with 4:18 before halftime. The two teams traded the lead over the next few minutes before another 3-pointer by Kennell with 1:10 to play gave Bradley the lead for good heading into halftime.
The Wildcats connected on 48.3 percent (14-of-29) from the field, including 37.5 percent (3-of-8) from 3-point range, while the Braves hit on 54.2 percent (13-of-24), including 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from long range. Sneed led all scorers with 11 points at halftime on 3-of-5 field goals and a 5-of-5 effort from the free throw line.
Neither team could score in the early moments of the second half before Kennell drained his fourth and fifth 3-pointers that gave Bradley a 44-37 lead and force head coach Bruce Weber to call a timeout at the 14:59 mark.
A 5-0 run all by sophomore Shaun Williams closed the Wildcats to within 44-42 with 13:07 to play, forcing Bradley to call a timeout, but the Braves responded with a 5-0 spurt of their own to take a 49-42 lead into the media timeout with 11:39 remaining.
K-State closed the gap to 51-47 on a Sneed layup with 9:14 remaining but Bradley once again responded to the challenge with consecutive baskets to take a 55-47 advantage less than a minute later. After a jumper by Williams that cut the deficit to 6 points on the next possession, the Braves continued their impressive shooting from 3-point range with back-to-back 3-pointers to increase their lead to 61-51 with 5:52 to play.
Baskets by Mawien and Diarra cut the deficit to 63-56 with 4:12 remaining, but Bradley’s 13th 3-pointer and sixth by Kennell put the Braves up 10 with 2:47 to play. It would be no closer the rest of the way, as free throws and frustration technicals on the K-State bench and Diarra accounted for the 73-60 final score.
Bradley connected on 45.8 percent (11-of-24) from the field, including 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from 3-point range, in the second half, while K-State managed to shoot 32.3 percent (10-of-31), including just 1-of-13 from long range.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Xavier Sneed tallied a near double-double with team-highs in both scoring (15) and rebounds (9) to go with 2 assists and 2 steals in 38 minutes of action. He has now led the team in scoring in 4 of 6 games this season.
Sophomore Shaun Williams posted just his second career double-digit scoring game with 10 points on 4-of-8 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, in 17 minutes off the bench.
STAT(S) OF THE GAME
13 – Bradley connected on 13 3-point field goals on 23 attempts (56.5 percent shooting), which were the most allowed by a Wildcat team since Iowa State hit on 14 on Feb. 16, 2019.