CBMVP: Crystal Bradford named MAC tournament MVP
CLEVELAND — Sophomore Crystal Bradford has been the star performer all season long for the women’s basketball team.
And during the Mid-American Conference tournament, she didn’t disappoint.
Her Chippewas locked up their first NCAA tournament berth in 29 years after defeating Akron in the MAC championship game, 86-68. Bradford was just one of many players who performed well and was named tournament MVP Saturday.
“It’s a great feeling; it’s a great accomplishment,” Bradford said. “I didn’t get (MAC) Player of the Year, but MVP of the tournament is a great feeling also, so having the championship is an even better feeling. Words can’t explain it … I mean, being MVP, that’s cool, but I don’t score every point, I don’t get every stop. It’s a team effort.”
Head coach Sue Guevara said she was pleased with how much Bradford has progressed this season, especially throughout this past week in the tournament.
“Crystal has come a long way,” she said. “I think she has become much more disciplined offensively. I told Crystal, ‘you’re a baller,’ you can hoop with the best of them, but, when you become a student of the game, then watch out.
“She has done a much better job of watching tape and really staying focused. She was focused this whole tournament,” Guevara said. “She has progressed; she still has a long way to go and we get her for two more years, so you’re going to watch her progress.”
In the first game against Bowling Green in the quarterfinals on Thursday, she scored a game-high 23 points to go along with six rebounds, two blocks and four steals.
She followed up that effort with a 20-point performance against No. 1 Toledo in a game where she played for much of the second half with four personal fouls. Bradford was strong defensively as well, contributing with three blocks and three steals.
In the MAC championship game, she saved her most balanced performance for last against Akron. She finished with a double-double coming out strong in the second half on both offense and defense, finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
Following the tournament win, while cutting down the nets, Bradford became emotional, saying it’s all because of what the team and coaches have accomplished this season.
“I don’t know, it’s unexplainable,” Bradford said. “It just feels good for everyone on my team … it just feels good for our seniors, give credit to them, and I feel good for our coach and coaching staff. It’s a good feeling for everybody.”
This season was one full of progression for the sophomore from Detroit. Rebounding, finishing at the basket and becoming more of a leader were just a few steps Bradford took this year.
More awards came Bradford’s way once again this season, as she was named First Team All-MAC and being named to the All-MAC Tournament team along with teammates Brandie Baker and Jessica Schroll
On a team with a lot of depth, Bradford stood out with her ability to score at will, attack the glass and make opponents look silly with performances others could only dream. She improved this season on the defensive end that she has said in the past has helped open up her offensive game.
Bradford said that seeing what the team has accomplished up to this point is great to see and that all their hard work has helped them achieve continued success throughout the season.
“It felt really good,” Bradford said. “It just shows that hard work pays off. After winning today, it just shows everything happens for a reason and things will pay off if you keep working hard.”
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