by Mike Kern

Attendance: Today’s attendance is 8,016, hiking the overall tourney attendance for four days and five sessions to 35,293.

MVC Tournament All-Tournament Team: Liam Robbins, Drake; John Kiser, Valparaiso; Javon Freeman-Liberty, Valparaiso; Elijah Childs, Bradley; and Darrell Brown, Bradley. Brown is the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

MVC Tournament Records: Bradley’s .875 FT percentage (14/16) in the 2nd half was the fifth best in MVC Tournament championship game.  Valpo set an MVC Tourney championship game record with the most 3-pointers attempted in a first half, with 16. By making 7 of them, that ties them for the most in a first half.  Valpo’s 13 three-point field goal attempts in second half tied for the fifth most in a MVC Tournament championship game. Valpo’s 29 three-point field goal attempts tied for the second most in a MVC Tournament championship game with Illinois State which had 29 attempts against Creighton in 2012.

MVC Tournament Notes:  Bradley becomes the ninth team to successfully defend its title and the first since UNI in 2016. It is Bradley’s fourth tourney title overall (1980, 1988, 2019). Bradley improved its MVC Tournament record to 38-37. BU is 4-4 in the finals and 9-7 as No. 4 seed, including a 1-0 mark against Valparaiso in St. Louis. No. 4 seeds are now 40-41 in MVC Tourney history including 25-27 in St. Louis. The Braves, who have won eight of their last 10 games, improve their record to 23-11. Bradley, which won two of three games against Valpo this season, improves its series record to 6-4 against the Crusaders.

Bradley Notes: Darrell Brown was 1/4 in the tourney shooting threes before connecting on 4/6 in the first half today, and he finished 4/6. Bradley put five players in double figures in scoring today, including Brown with 21, Elijah Childs with 17, JaShon Henry with 16, Nate Kennell with 14 and Ville Tahvanainen with 10. Rebounds were close at the half before Bradley finished with a 38-30 margin on the boards. Brown finished with 9 assists, one away from his career best.  Elijah Childs added a team-best 8 boards and 2 steals, matching his career-best in steals. Henry was 7/9 from the floor and added 7 boards. Kennell‘s 2 treys brings his season total to 88. He moved above Hersey Hawkins (1987-88), and is now tied with Will Franklin (2006-07) for third on the Bradley single-season list. finishes his MVC Tournament career with 163 points—good for sixth most in MVC Tournament history. He also added 5 made free throws today, giving him 42 made free throws in Tourney history—also good for sixth all-time in MVC Tourney play.  His nine assists in today’s game give him 35 in his career in MVC Tourney play—good for 9th all time in MVC Tourney history.


Valparaiso Notes: The Crusaders, who had a three-game winning streak snapped, fall to 19-16 this season. Valpo’s MVC tourney record is now 4-3, including 0-1 mark vs. Bradley. Valpo’s Donovan Clay entered today with a tourney-leading 9 offensive rebounds in three games, but Bradley held him to zero for the game. Ryan Fazekas had 11 threes in the tournament. Javon Freeman-Liberty was Valpo’s only double-figure scorer with 24 points and was the game’s leading rebounder with 10. It was his first double-double of season as well as 15th 20-plus scoring game. He tallied 15 points in second half. He moved to No. 5 on school single-season scoring list with 628 points, passing Bryce Drew (613, 1997-98; 617, 1996-97). Valpo made 10 treys; the 12th time this season the Crusaders made 10 or more three-point baskets in a game.


First Half:  Bradley surged out to a 9-2 lead in the first three minutes but Valparaiso fought quickly back and closed to within a 12-10 deficit by the first media break at 14:35. Darrell Brown and Nate Kennell had hit treys for Bradley and Javon Freeman-Liberty and Mileek McMillan had scored from long range for Valpo. Kennell snapped the VU run with a jumper with 14 minutes left and had 7 of BU’s 14 points by then. Bradley hiked its margin back to 7 at 19-12 with 12:15 to play, but Valpo recovered again to close to within 21-20 by the nine-minute mark. Bradley still led by a point at 26-25 at the 7:34 media break. Valpo got its first tie at 26-26 with 7:09 on a FT by Daniel Sackey. It was tied again at 29, 34 and 36 before a Freeman-Liberty basket put Valpo up 38-36 with 1:40 left and the rest of the half was scoreless. Valpo was at .500 (15/30) and Bradley at .455 (15/33) shooting for the half. Valpo led rebounding 17-16. Koch Bar of Bradley led all rebounders with 7. Brown led all scorers with a dozen points as his four treys in the half tied his career best. Freeman-Liberty set the pace for Valpo with 9 points and also 5 rebounds. The teams combined for 13 treys in the first half as Valpo was 7/16 and Bradley 6/12 from long range. Bradley is 5-8 when trailing at halftime and Valpo is 11-3 when leading at the break.

Second Half:  After ties at 38 and 40, Valpo took its biggest lead of the game at 48-42 on a trey by Ben Krikke at the 14-minute mark. A Kennell trey brought the Braves back within 48-47 a minute later. Brown scored at the 12-minute mark to get the game’s seventh tie at 49-49.  Bradley got the lead back for the first time since the first half on a dunk by JaShon Henry to make it 53-51 with 8:45 to play and Ville Tahvanainen swished a trey for a 7-0 Bradley run and 56-51 Brave edge at 8:15. Henry with 6, Kennell with 5 and Elijah Childs with 4 have combined for 15 of Bradley’s 20 points in the second half. BU matched its biggest lead at 60-53 with 5:25 to play and then stretched it to 62-53 as Brown banked in a short jumper as BU moved its lead to double digits at 64-53 and then 66-53 under three minutes. Valpo has missed eight straight three-point attempts against the Bradley zone. Henry scored on an alley-oop with 3:50 as BU went up 68-53. Bradley stayed ahead with foul line accuracy in the closing minutes.

MVC Basketball on Twitter

What a game. What a tournament. What a great 30 years. CONGRATULATIONS, @bradleyumbb! #ArchMadness30 https://t.co/uyzHd5gXZa


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