CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- After watching senior point guard Chadarryl Clay hoist up an airball from 3-point range Sunday, GPS coach Susan Crownover called a timeout. There was 4:21 remaining in the second quarter, and Bradley Central held an 18-16 lead.
Crownover's message during the stoppage of play was simple: "Be our leader."
Clay finished with 27 points and six assists, and the Bruisers stymied the Bearettes with their second-half defensive effort on their way to the Mountain View Inn Thanksgiving Tournament championship with a 53-33 victory at Jim Smiddy Arena in Cleveland.
The win improved the Bruisers to 4-1 on the season. Bradley Central fell to the same mark.
Jeneh Perry had her best game of the season, with 18 points and 10 rebounds -- six offensive, but Crownover made a second-half adjustment defensively, switching to a matchup zone and confusing the Bearettes. Bradley Central made only five field goals and shot 20 percent in the second half, and committed 19 turnovers.
Bradley's shooting woes extended to the foul line, where they hit only 2 of 7 in the second half.
"It gave us a chance to slow their big girl [Brooke Copeland] down," Crownover said. "We were fortunate that they didn't have a good shooting night, because you can't help too much off of their shooters."
Copeland had 12 first-half points, but finished with 16 to lead the Bearettes. She was the only Bradley Central player in double figures.
The game went back-and-forth early, as the Bearettes consistently beat the GPS pressure for layups in taking a 9-4 edge. GPS responded with a 10-2 run, but a 3 by Kayla Beavers tied the game at 14 after a quarter.
GPS upped the pressure in the latter part of the second quarter, taking a 27-21 lead into the half after running off seven unanswered in the final 1:11.
"They got the momentum during the run, and it carried into the second half on us," Bradley Central coach Jason Reuter said. "We couldn't find any rhythm. There was never anything that we could find that we could hang our hats on.
"If you can't shoot, you won't win."
The lead hit double figures in the third quarter on a floater by Brianna Farris, and GPS never looked back.
"They ran that zone early on, and we were making one or two passes and taking shots, which was what [Bradley] wanted," Crownover said. "It's tough to make shots when you're not taking good shots."
Monica Hammond and Caroline Smith each had six points for Bradley Central. Hammond led the team with eight rebounds. GPS's Tory Kemp had seven rebounds and Simone Busby six.
"Everybody knows that it's tough to come to Bradley and get a win," Crownover said. "They are very competitive. I know they had a couple players out, but it's big for us to get a win on their floor."
Bradley hopes to get 6-foot-2 sophomore post Rebecca Reuter and junior guard Taylor Neuharth -- a transfer from Walker Valley -- back this week from injury.
"We're going to take this loss and run with it," Reuter said. "We'll get better from it."