BY JOE MILLER
Drake Women’s Basketball has been on the up the last couple of seasons, but has appeared unstoppable in 2016-17. Riding a 12-game win streak, the Bulldogs have an 11-0 start in the Missouri Valley Conference, the best in program history. They also two-game buffer in the top seed of the conference, ahead of no. 2 Northern Iowa and its 9-2 record.
Drake kept up the momentum this weekend, picking up two strong wins against conference opponents Southern Illinois and Evansville on a two-game road trip.
Drake began their weekend in Carbondale taking on Southern Illinois. It was the second matchup between the powerhouse Bulldogs and middle-of-the-road Salukis. Drake took the first meeting 75-59.
The Bulldogs jumped ahead early in the first quarter, but allowed a 17-4 run midway through the second to fall behind 30-20. Despite answering with a 7-1 run, SIU held a 35-31 lead entering halftime.
Drake battled back in the third quarter, making up the four-point deficit and drawing even at 50-50 heading into the final period. The Bulldogs grabbed a six-point lead off of an 8-2 run to begin the fourth and didn’t look back from there. Drake would outscore Southern Illinois 21-10 in the final frame and took the game, 71-60.
Drake’s starting five did most of the damage, combining for 63 of the team’s 71 points. The Bulldogs once again dominated down low, scoring 44 points in the paint.
Individually, Drake’s stars got it done once again. Lizzy Wendell continued her prolific scoring campaign, putting up 21 points and adding an assist. Caitlin Ingle added 20 points, four assists and two rebounds.
Drake finished the weekend Sunday in Evansville, squaring off against the 3-8 Purple Aces. Again, it was the second meeting between the two teams. The last one ended in an 82-65 Bulldog victory.
Drake jumped out to an early 20-8 lead in the first quarter, controlling the pace of play effectively and knocking down some key 3-pointers to maintain momentum.
Evansville did not give up hope, however, as they came back to bring the game within eight heading into the half.
The Bulldogs went cold shooting in the second quarter, going zero for nine on 3-point attempts.
The third quarter saw the momentum change hands multiple times as neither team could maintain control of the game.
Evansville brought the game within four midway through the third, but a 14-0 Drake run in the final three minutes of the quarter allowed Drake to take a 19 point lead into the final quarter.
Drake’s stubborn defense held Evansville to just nine points in the final quarter and secured the win for the Bulldogs.
Drake’s play was anchored by sophomore Sammie Bachrodt, who recorded her first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, adding five steals for good measure. Four other Bulldogs scored in the double digits, sharing the wealth almost equally among Drake’s stars: Wendell (11), Becca Jonas (11), Becca Hinter (11), Nicole Miller (10).
Drake’s ability to control the pace of play and force mistakes proved crucial in the game, as the Bulldogs scored 18 points off turnovers and 14 in transition.
Drake returns to the Knapp Center this Saturday to take on Illinois State at 7 p.m.