PEORIA - Walt Lemon, Jr. led three Bradley players in double-figures with 19 points, while adding six assists and three steals, and the Braves (2-0) cruised to an 85-59 win against Alabama State (0-2) in the second round of the Global Sports Invitational Sunday evening at Renaissance Coliseum.
The Braves improved to 5-0 all-time in their on-campus arena and Sunday’s 26-point margin of victory was their largest at Renaissance Coliseum.
Sophomore guard Omari Grier added 14 points for the Braves and junior forward Auston Barnes added 12 points and seven rebounds. The duo combined to make all six (6-for-13) of Bradley’s 3-point field goals. Jamel Waters led Alabama State with 14 points and a game-high seven assists, while Luther Page chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds for the Hornets.
Lemon picked up his second foul with 10:13 left in the first half and after Waters split a pair of resulting free throws, Bradley led just 21-14. Grier’s driving, up-and-under layup started an 16-3 Bradley run, however, that pushed the home squad’s advantage to 37-17 with 3:50 left in the half.
Four Bradley turnovers in the final 2:40 of the half, helped fuel a mini Hornets run that trimmed the deficit to 39-28, but Lemon went end-to-end on the final possession of the half for a 41-28 lead at the break.
Alabama State scored the first six points of the second half, aided by two more Bradley turnovers on its first two possessions of the half, but Tyshon Pickett’s putback basket with 18:17 left gave the Braves a 43-34 lead and started a 21-5 outburst that broke the game open. Alabama State never got the deficit back under 20 points in the final 10 minutes.
While Bradley was shooting 59.3 percent (32-54) from the field, the Hornets were just 23-for-60 (.383) overall, including 3-of-24 (.125) from 3-point range. Alabama State also was only 10-of-21 (.476) from the free throw line. Bradley won the rebound battle, 43-27.
The Braves will have little time to celebrate their fourth consecutive 2-0 start as Bradley will host Central Michigan in a 7 p.m. game Tuesday night at Carver Arena. The Braves will resume play in the Global Sports Invitational by hosting Chicago State Friday night at Carver Arena, then will conclude participation in the multi-team exempt event when they visit Illinois Sunday.