ST. LOUIS (AP) — Bradley rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half and earned its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2006, beating Northern Iowa 57-54 Sunday in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game.
Elijah Childs scored 16 points and Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye added 13 for fifth-seeded Bradley (20-14). The Braves advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time overall — in their last appearance, as a 13th seed, they beat Kansas and Pittsburgh before losing to Memphis.
Bradley trailed 35-17 with 17 minutes left to play. The Braves used a 12-0 run to get close, then scored six straight points to go up 55-50 on a layup by Childs with 1:41 left. Lautier-Ogunleye had four free throws during the late surge.
Luqman Lundy had 11 points as Bradley won the MVC Tournament title for the first time 1988.
AJ Green led sixth-seeded Northern Iowa (16-18) with 23 points.
The Panthers rushed to a 14-2 lead. Bradley had separate stretches of nearly nine minutes and more than six minutes where it didn’t score in the first half, then hit 15 of 26 shots after the break.
Northern Iowa went 8 of 20 from 3-point range and has made at least one 3-pointer in 628 successive games, the longest streak among MVC teams.