Despite being down by as many as 18 points, No. 5 seed Bradley University came back to defeat No. 6 seed University of Northern Iowa 57-54 in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) tournament championship game at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis Sunday afternoon.
The Braves, who started MVC play 0-5, will get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament — their first appearance since 2006.
The Braves trailed by 12 points at halftime, but made 15 of 26 shots in the second half and took their first lead with 3:44 remaining in the game. Sophomore guard Elijah Childs led the comeback with 16 points, while senior guard Dwayne Lautier Ogunleye had 13 points — including four straight free throws after a technical foul with 1:58 remaining to put the Braves ahead 53-50.
A Childs layup made it 55-50, but Northern Iowa came back to make it 55-54 with 43 seconds left. The Panthers got a shot off with 2.3 seconds left and, after a replay review, the Braves got the ball back and iced the victory after a foul on Northern Iowa guard Trae Berhow.
Northern Iowa was paced by MVC Freshman of the Year A.J. Green, who had 23 points and made key shots down the stretch.
Bradley will learn who, when and where it will play next on Selection Sunday, which is scheduled for March 17 at 5 p.m. CDT.