STORY BY TIM WEBBER
The Drake Men’s Basketball team played a strong second half against Indiana State on Wednesday, but had spent the first twenty minutes digging a hole they couldn’t quite escape. The Sycamores (8-7, 2-1 MVC) survived the Bulldogs’ rally, 79-69, in the first game at Drake since J-term classes began.
The loss is Drake’s third in a row, and its seventh in the last eight games. The team falls to 5-10 overall and 0-3 in Missouri Valley Conference play, and has serious ground to cover if it intends to make noise at the conference tournament — now just two months away.
At halftime, the Bulldogs looked to be heading towards their worst defeat of the season. Down 46-26, the Drake shooters were colder than the wintry mix falling outside the Knapp Center. The team had converted just one-third of their field goal attempts and shot an abysmal 5-of-10 from the charity stripe.
But Drake came out of halftime with no intent to roll over, and used a 14-2 run to close the deficit to four points with just over ten minutes left to play.
That was as close as the Bulldogs would come to topping to the Sycamores.
Two timeouts in quick succession allowed Indiana State to regain control of the game, and the Drake shooters again cooled off towards the final buzzer.
Missed free throws would ultimately cost Drake the game.
Indiana State was in a generous mood, awarding Drake bonus opportunities with at least eight minutes left in each half. But the Bulldogs struggled at the line, shooting 59.3 percent — an off night for a team that already struggles with free throws.
Drake missed 11 of them. Those lost points would have been more than enough to cover the final deficit.
Jacob Enevold was the only Bulldog perfect from the line (6-of-6). He led the team with 14 points, while C.J. Rivers chipped in 13 of his own. Reed Timmer also had 13 points on an uncharacteristically poor shooting day — the sophomore again led the team in minutes and put on his typical energetic performance, but he managed just 3-of-14 from the field.
Indiana State faced similar struggles shooting the ball, but had the benefit of more open looks and wiser shot selection. They were led by senior Devonte Brown, who had a career-high 27 points.
The Sycamores return home Saturday to face Illinois State. Meanwhile, Drake will embark on a two-game road trip that includes stops at UNI (Saturday) and Evansville (Tuesday). They will return to the Knapp Center on Sunday, January 17 to face Southern Illinois.