Bradley’s strong effort not enough to knock off second-seed Michigan State

DES MOINES – For a good amount of their first NCAA Tournament in 13 years, they looked like they had the potential to be a Cinderella.

They had the lead at the half and deep into the second as this No. 15 seed was giving the No. 2 seed in the East Region all they could handle in Des Moines on Thursday afternoon.

Unfortunately for Bradley, who came into their game against Michigan State as an 18-point underdog, it wasn’t quite enough to pull off a major upset in the first round of “March Madness.”

The Spartans used a late 8-0 run to take the lead away from the Braves in the second half, sending Brian Wardle’s team home with a 76-65 defeat at Wells Fargo Arena. It gives Bradley a 20-15 record to end the season, one in which they qualified for their first NCAA Tournament since the 2006 season.

A different result could have been envisioned a few times over the course of the game, one in which the Braves by one at the half then took a five-point lead 53 seconds into the second half on an Elijah Childs’ dunk. The Spartans would go onto build as much as a seven-point lead, going up 48-41 on a Nick Ward jumper with 13:28 remaining, but Bradley wouldn’t go away.

Child’s jumper with 7:05 to play gave Bradley a 55-54 lead, but Michigan State would snag it back with eight-straight points following the hoop and slowly pulled away down the stretch.

Cassius Winston, whose two free throws with 6:24 left and hoop with 4:09 left gave the Spartans the lead for good, finished with a game-high 26 points. Childs led the way for Bradley with 19 points, spurring an effort that threw a scare in the second seed, but not enough to make the Braves the “Cinderella” team of 2019.

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