The Drake women’s basketball team capped off the Missouri Valley Conference’s first undefeated regular season this week with wins over Missouri State and Wichita State. The undefeated season is yet another milestone the team has achieved in its historic season.
Game one of the weekend featured action against the Missouri State Bears, currently ranked third in the conference. Drake got out to an early 12-2 lead and rode it to a 12-point advantage after the first quarter. Despite the hot start from the Bulldogs, the Bears started to claw their way back during the second quarter. Heading into halftime, Drake held a 10-point lead.
“I think we started out really well on both ends of the floor,” said head coach Jennie Baranczyk in a post-game press conference, “But you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Missouri State.”
Drake held onto a small but shifting lead throughout the second half. Missouri State brought the game to within one with seven minutes left in the third quarter, but a quick 6-0 run restored Drake’s comfortable lead.
Heading into the final quarter, Drake held a six-point lead. The lead would be cut to four at one point in the final quarter, but clutch free-throw shooting from the Drake squad at the end of the game gave the Bulldogs the final edge, 98-91.
Drake once again performed exceptionally well from the field, shooting at a hot 52.3 percent, including 46 percent from beyond the arc. 36 of Drake’s points came from its interior game and 28 came off the bench.
Becca Hittner led the charge for the Bulldogs with 22 points, five rebounds and two assists. Lizzy Wendell posted a 21-point performance along with eight assists and four rebounds. Four other Bulldogs finished in double-digits: Brenni Rose (16), Caitlin Ingle (11), Sammie Bachrodt (11) and Nicole Miller (10). Ingle also added eight assists.
In the regular season finale, Drake took on the Wichita State Shockers at the Knapp Center.
It seemed like fate. The Bulldogs started their conference season with a win over the Shockers. Now it would end with one.
Drake faltered a bit at the start, heading into the second period down by a point (28-27), a spot the team isn’t accustomed to being in. The Bulldogs pulled back into the lead in the second quarter, taking a seven-point lead into the half.
Drake’s depth once again played a crucial factor, as the team hit its stride right as the Shockers fell out of their rhythm.
Wichita State took a two-point lead with five minutes left in the third quarter, but Drake was ready to bounce back.
The Bulldogs closed out the quarter on a 27-6 run, featuring 12 consecutive unanswered points and headed into the final quarter with a massive 19-point advantage. The fourth quarter stayed competitive, but Drake would ultimately take the game 105-89.
In a dynamic scoring performance for the Bulldogs, three different Drake players finished with more than 20 points: Lizzy Wendell (25), Sammie Bachrodt (23), and Brenni Rose (22). Drake’s 55 percent shooting percentage certainly aided in the effort, as well as its 61 percent performance from downtown.
The victory was also the final game in the Knapp Center for seniors Ingle, Wendell and Cortni Rush.
Drake’s next action will be postseason play. After a bye, the Bulldogs will play either Indiana State or Illinois State, depending on which of the two wins their first-round game.
Tip-off for the Bulldogs’ game will be at 12 p.m. on March 10 in Moline, Illinois. It will be broadcast live on ESPN3.