Story by Luke Nankivell
Photos by Joel Venzke
Senior forward Aaron Hawley led the Bulldogs with 18 points, shooting 7-of-11 in the effort. Senior guard Richard Carter also reached double-digit points, scoring 17.
Drake played well against the MVC’s third-place team, shooting 52 percent from the field, keeping the Bulldogs close until the end.
After a Hawley 3-pointer pulled the Bulldogs within one possession, Missouri State beat Drake twice deep on inbounding plays to score two easy buckets and seal the game.
“We haven’t been in a whole lot of late-game situations like that where you switch on a back pick,” said Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti. “We didn’t switch.”
The Bears took advantage of their trips to the free throw line, hitting 23-of-29 shots from the charity stripe. It was the second-most attempts by an MVC opponent this season.
After losing four straight games, the Bulldogs returned to the Knapp Center Saturday to host MVC newcomer Loyola. Drake snapped the losing streak with a 70-62 win.
Seniors led the Bulldogs to the victory, with Carter recording his ninth 20-point game of the season and redshirt senior center Seth VanDeest pulling in a career-high 12 rebounds. VanDeest was one basket short of tallying his third career double-double.
“Seth led us with senior experience,” Giacoletti said. “Not only his rebounding and scoring, but he got us going with his passing.”
After taking a 12-point lead into halftime, the Ramblers were able to pull within single digits. Loyola continued the pressure with a full-court press, but the Bulldogs held on to their lead.
“We struggled with the press at first,” VanDeest said. “But we did a good job of refocusing and guys stepped up (at the free throw line).”
Drake once again shot well, hitting 51 percent of its shots and a more pedestrian 38 percent from behind the arc.
Junior guard Jordan Daniels scored 12 points in the win, and Hawley and junior forward Trevor Berkeley both finished with eight.
“We’re starting to get closer to where we need to be, and today we got rewarded with a good home win,” Giacoletti said.
Carter and VanDeest connected on many plays, and both finished with a team-leading four assists.
“I’ve gotten two years out of my big man,” Carter said. “We know how we play, and we just play off of each other.”
The Bulldogs return to the Knapp Center Tuesday when they host in-state rival University of Northern Iowa. UNI won the first meeting of the season, 76-66.
“You find your true character through adversity, and these guys have come back every day in practice and believed,” Giacoletti said.