PEORIA — Illinois scored at will.
Trouble is, Bradley did it even better.
Year 2 of the Matt Bollant era kicked off in high-scoring fashion Friday morning, the Illini losing their season opener 98-92 at Renaissance Coliseum.
“We were not very good defensively throughout the game. Our returners have to (be) better, and getting into foul trouble really hurt our team,” Bollant said. “We didn’t have any mentality. The defense is about mentality, and we needed players to step up and have it, but they didn’t.”
Illinois tied a school record with 12 three-pointers, scored the second-most points under Bollant and got a career-high seven three-pointers from Amber Moore.
And still lost.
“We were making shots. Amber stepped up and made a bunch of threes. We got really good looks offensively, and I thought we got what we wanted throughout the game on that end,” Bollant said.
A 22-5 second-half run put Bradley in charge, the Braves taking advantage of Illinois foul trouble to keep the lead. Bradley shot 25 free throws to Illinois’ two.
Ivory Crawford led the Illini with 24 points. Moore had 21 points and played all 40 minutes. Newcomers Jacqui Grant (12 points, 14 rebounds) and Sarah Hartwell (18 points on 8-of-10 shooting) enjoyed solid debuts.
But it wasn’t enough as Bradley got a career-high 32 points from Michelle Young and 23 points from Kelsey Budd.
Illinois hosts Valparaiso at 7 p.m. Tuesday in its home opener.