PEORIA, Ill. — It was the perfect formula for a record night: The top scorer in the nation vs. UC Irvine's defense. So it came as no surprise that Bradley's Hersey Hawkins scored a school-record 51 points Saturday night.
Still, Bradley officials probably didn't count on their entire basketball record book being rendered obsolete in one night. By the time the final buzzer sounded on the Braves' 139-119 victory over the Anteaters, four Bradley records, two Irvine records and eight Carver Arena records had been broken.
The 139 points were the most ever for Bradley, the 258 combined points were the most by the Braves and an opponent, and the Braves' "other" guard, Anthony Manuel, had a school-record 21 assists.
But Hawkins' mark was by far the most notable, especially when you consider the fact that he played only three-quarters of the game. Hawkins picked up his third foul with 9:45 left in the first half and sat out the rest of the half.
When Hawkins left the game, he was on a pace that would have worked out to 92 points had he played all 40 minutes.
"We love to get records for everybody," said Irvine Coach Bill Mulligan, whose team set a pair of dubious records--most points allowed and combined points. "Maybe we should change the way we play, but we're not going to, because we like to play like that. It's fun."
The majority of 8,911 at Carver Arena would have certainly agreed. In the early going, fans were screaming at Hawkins to score 75 . . . even 100.
Forward Wayne Engelstad, who scored a career-high 41 points, might have had a shot at Kevin Magee's Irvine scoring record (46), but Mulligan pulled him out of the game with 2:05 remaining.
"I didn't know he was that close," Mulligan said, "and I've got three assistants who didn't know either."
Would he have let a player he constantly ridicules (Engelstad) play long enough to break the record of a player (Magee) he admittedly reveres if he did know?
"I don't have to answer that now, do I?" Mulligan asked, smiling.
Bradley Coach Stan Albeck was certainly aware of Hawkins' point status down the stretch and he shouted out a couple of special plays to help his star get over the hump. UCI's Jeff Herdman and Chris Creswell made Hawkins work for those final points, though. Hawkins made both ends of three one-and-one situations in the final two minutes and broke Chet Walker's 1960 record of 50 with a pair of free throws with four seconds left.
"Considering the blistering start he got off to (16 points in the first six minutes), Hersey would have put the record way out of sight if he hadn't gotten in foul trouble," Albeck said. "If someone is near a record, I always leave him in, but he really deserves that record. He's been our main man for two years."
Bradley (4-1) led, 38-26, when Hawkins went to the bench. Irvine (5-4) cut the deficit to 68-63 at the half and grabbed a fleeting one-point lead when Justin Anderson sank a couple of three-pointers in the first minute of the second half. But Hawkins was back in the game, and the Braves reeled off a 21-2 spurt. After that, the only suspense left was how many records would fall.
"I don't know how many I would have gotten if I hadn't missed those 10 minutes," said Hawkins, who made 15 of 25 shots (including 7 of 10 from three-point range) and 14 of 15 free throws. "Sixty I guess. I should have gotten at least 10 more, especially in this game. It was an entertaining game to watch. I know 'cause I watched too much of it."
Bradley reserve forward Jerry Thomas, who had a career high of 13 points and had scored a total of just 16 this season, had 33 points in this one. Irvine senior Frank Woods also had a career best of 25 points.