ONLINE EXCLUSIVE STORY BY MATTHEW GOGERTY
Drake’s performance at home didn’t improve after last week’s loss to Northern Iowa. The Bulldogs (6-19, 1-12 MVC) fell to the Wichita State Shockers (18-6, 12-1 MVC) at the Knapp Center, 74-48.
The Shockers returned to their old form at the Knapp Center after their first loss in conference play this season, a 53-58 road loss to Illinois State on Feb. 6. Wichita State’s lead was 44-21 at the end of the first half. The Shockers were shooting over 50 percent from the three-point line (17-30) and the Bulldogs were struggling keep pace (5-23).
“Any mistakes you make against a team like that, they’re going to make you pay,” head coach Ray Giacoletti said.
Early on, it looked as though the Bulldogs might be able to challenge the best-in-the-MVC Shockers, only behind by one point less than eight minutes into the first half. At the time, Drake was shooting 50 percent from the field with half of their points coming from the free throw line.
But it was all downhill from there.
The Bulldogs would miss 15 of their final 16 shots in the half and entered the locker room with a shooting percentage of just 21 percent. The Shockers, however, shot 57 percent in the half.
In the second half, the Bulldogs were able to correct some problems in their defense and limited Wichita State’s shooting from the three-point line. The Shockers shot a mere 22 percent in the second from 3-point land, far less than the 58 percent they had in the first.
Even though their defense improved, the Bulldogs still only converted on six of 21 field goal attempts in the second half. The Shockers shot 39 percent in the second, converting on 11 out of 29 attempts.
The second half’s pace of play was slowed by fouls – 12 by the Bulldogs and 14 for the Shockers. This culminated in a lot of time spent at the free throw line, mostly for Drake’s Reed Timmer.
Timmer sunk 11 out of 12 free throw attempts in the game and finished with 20 points. The team finished 22-for-24 from the line.
Other than the foul trouble, the Shockers played a strong, defensive basketball game, something that Giacoletti recognized at the press conference.
“They are just too good defensively,” Giacoletti said. “(The Shockers are) long and athletic, but there were three or four run outs when we couldn’t finish in transition.”
Freshman Dominik Olejniczak benefitted from foul shots as well, making 5-of-6. He would finish with nine points, two offensive rebounds and two turnovers in his second start of the season.
The weakest point of his game was probably on defense as the Shockers scored 34 points in the paint throughout the game.
“He’s the future,” Giacoletti said. “He played against men tonight. He got manhandled a time or two defensively and he had a couple looks in the second half and got it to go. He’s going to learn as we go along.”
Giacoletti also recognized Timmer’s future with the Bulldogs, as he continues to lead Drake in scoring this season.
“He’s the one solid entity from start to finish, not only last year but this year,” Giacoletti said. “He brings a mentality every night that is about team.”
Timmer played 38 minutes in the game, had 5 rebounds and shot 40 percent to go along with his stellar shooting from the free throw line. As a sophomore, he recognized that games like these are part of the learning process, understanding that the Bulldogs are still a young team.
“We know how good we can be, we’ve seen it in spurts,” Timmer said. “We really have to learn to strive through whatever comes.”