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Bradley’s Chicago-area players lift Braves past Loyola 63-54

Updated: February 6, 2014 11:12PM

Bradley hadn’t won a road game all season, but with a roster including four Chicago-area players and a big contingent of fans, the Braves made Loyola’s Gentile Arena feel like home Thursday.

The 63-54 outcome not only ended the road drought, but it marked the 1,600th victory in Bradley’s history, one of only 28 schools to reach that number.

‘‘I thought a couple days ago they had a mind-set that was a little different,’’ Bradley coach Geno Ford said. ‘‘It felt like a neutral court.’’

Walt Lemon Jr., the senior from Julian, scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the second half.

But the game also turned on a flagrant foul called on Loyola sophomore Jeff White with 1:10 left, shortly after White’s jumper pulling the Ramblers to within 56-53.

Officials took almost five minutes to review the play before sending junior Auston Barnes to the line, where he made both free throws to extend the lead to 58-53.

‘‘I saw Auston and Jeff got ­tangled on the block,’’ Ford said. ‘‘It wasn’t malicious, but with the new rules, his elbow caught Auston in the nose.’’

‘‘It was the right call,’’ said Loyola coach Porter Moser.

Moser was more disappointed with the Ramblers’ 18 turnovers.

‘‘We had a lack of discipline,’’ he said. ‘‘The Achilles’ heel of this team is valuing the ball and turnovers. Until we correct it, it’s hard to win. We hold them to 35 percent shooting and outrebound them, but then 18 turnovers.’’

The Braves were thrilled to get their first road victory since winning at UIC on Feb. 23, 2013.

‘‘It meant a lot because this is my last time playing in front of family and friends,’’ Lemon said. ‘‘And it meant a lot to get a road win.’’

Tyshon Pickett scored 13 and sophomore Omari Grier added 11 for Bradley (10-14, 5-6 Missouri Valley).

Freshman Milton Doyle scored 16 for the Ramblers (8-15, 3-8).

‘‘Milton has played great, but this was our worst game of sharing the ball,’’ Moser said. ‘‘[Bradley] came out with extra quick hands and they set the tone.’’

Bradley scored the game’s first 10 points and started the second half with a 7-0 spurt.

‘‘Those runs allowed us to win,’’ Ford said. ‘‘You need those cushions.’’


Twitter: @toniginnetti

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