Story by Luke Nankivell
Photos by Joel Venzke
“It’s a special feeling to win back-to-back games,” said Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti. “I’m happy for those three seniors.”
After UNI scored the first bucket, Drake went on an 11-0 run over three minutes to take an 11-2 lead at the first timeout of the meeting after 3-pointers from junior forwards Chris Caird and Trevor Berkeley.
“This time of year, people scout you so well that you can’t use your old sets,” Giacoletti said. “You kind of have to get into a flow and make plays out of it.”
The Bulldogs played close defense throughout the majority of the game, getting three of their four blocks in the first half. Caird had a monster block that sent the ball to half court, giving Drake an easy fast-break play.
Drake stretched the lead to 20 during the second half, but UNI went on a 16-0 run late in the game to pull within two.
Drake’s free throw shooting helped the Bulldogs seal the deal as they went 7:46 without a field goal. The Bulldogs hit 8-of-10 from the line in the last minute.
“You have to have people on the floor, when it gets kind of crazy, that are calm and understand it all,” Giacoletti said.
Senior guard Richard Carter led the Bulldogs in points, scoring 19. Berkeley added a career-high 15 points for Drake, scoring 12 in the first half.
Drake’s big men contributed to the effort, with centers Seth VanDeest and Jacob Enevold each scoring eight points.
The Bulldogs held the Panthers shooting to under 40 percent, while Drake shot 48 percent on the night. The Bulldogs shot over 50 percent until they hit their drought towards the end of the game.
“We held them to 38 percent from the field,” Giacoletti said. “That’s four nights in a row. It’s something to take pride in.”
Junior guard Jordan Daniels surprised many by tying VanDeest for most rebounds in the game with eight boards. Drake won the rebounding battle 37-27.
UNI had a chance to win the game late in the final minute. After Carter made one of two free throws with 20 seconds on the clock, UNI junior guard Deon Mitchell charged down the floor and missed a game-winning, uncontested layup.
“We got through it. We got it done,” Giacoletti said. “We need to finish a little better down the stretch, but guys did what they needed to do.”
With the win, Drake moved to 14-13 (5-10 in conference play), the first time being over .500 since Feb. 4.
Drake’s next contest is against No. 3 Wichita State on Saturday. Drake lost to the Shockers 78-61 at home Jan. 25. The Bulldogs will return to the Knapp Center for the last time this season March 1.