Darrell Brown scored 21 points and Elijah Childs added 17 to lead fourth-seeded Bradley to its 10th NCAA Tournament with an 80-66 win over seventh-seeded Valparaiso in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game on Sunday.
Ja’Shon Henry scored 16 points for the fourth-seeded Braves, Nate Kennell chipped in with 14 points and Ville Tahvanainen added 10.
Javon Freeman-Liberty paced seventh-seeded Valparaiso with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Bradley (23-11) claimed its fourth MVC title and became the ninth team in MVC history to defend its tournament crown Valparaiso (19-16) led 48-42 with 14:27 left in the contest.
Bradley used a 7-0 run midway through the second half to go in front to stay, 56-51. Henry snapped a 51-all tie with a fallaway jumper. Tahvanainen then drilled 3-pointer to push the lead to five.
The Braves were a 15th-seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament and lost to Michigan State 76-65 in the opening round.
Bradley’s 23 victories is the most since the 1993-94 team went 23-8 under coach Jim Molinari.