BY JD PELEGRINO
The Drake women’s basketball team owned 2017-2018 and the Missouri Valley Conference once again. For the second straight season, the women’s team went undefeated in conference. After posing a 28-5 record last season, they concluded the 2017-2018 season at 26-8. This is the second straight conference championship for the Bulldogs and head coach Jennie Baranczyk’s second straight Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year honor.
After finishing the regular season on a 21-game win streak, the Bulldogs took their talents to the Missouri Valley tournament where they faced Valparaiso, Southern Illinois University, and finally in the MVC Championship against Northern Iowa. As the Bulldogs did all season long, they went undefeated in the MVC tournament, beating Northern Iowa 75-63 in the championship game.
The 13-seeded Bulldogs (26-8) faced off against the 4-seeded Texas A&M Aggies (25-9) on Friday, March 16. Unfortunately, the season was cut short for Drake’s women. Drake fell to the Aggies 89-76 in a hard fought game.
The 6-1 Drake sophomore Sara Rhine hit 10 of 11 shots from the field and sank her only free throw all while grabbing 10 rebounds. Rhine contributed 21 points in the valiant effort by the Dogs. Sophomore guards Becca Hittner and Brenni Rose put up 19 and 10 points as well.
At the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs were leading the Aggies 28-26. It was not until the second quarter where things started to get out of hand for Drake. The Bulldogs only scored 14 points in the second quarter, half as many as previously scored in the first. TAMU continued a high level of offense, scoring 31 points in the second.
Drake pushed back in the third quarter, outscoring TAMU by four points, but ultimately could not regain the ground given up in the second quarter. First-year Chennedy Carter scored 26 points in her first NCAA tournament game to propel the Aggies into the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs season ended with the loss to Texas A&M. Their finishing record, regular and post season, is 26-8.
There is some good news for the Bulldogs looking forward to next season, however. The team will be retaining all of its starters as well as most players off the bench. The only player leaving the team is Senior guard Paige Greiner. The future appears bright for the Bulldogs under Coach Baranczyk.
Guard Brenni Rose took her humor to Instagram on Sunday, March 18 to share a picture of her and Drake football player Ian Malaby, captioned, “between the two of us, we have 2 rings, 4 MVC/NCAA watches, two undefeated conference seasons, and all of them belong to me #athlete #couple #ButHesTheBetterCheerleader.” The picture was taken directly after the MVC championship game.
At the conclusion of the season, Guard Becca Hittner led the team in points scored (533), points per game (15.7), free throws made (129), free throws made per game (3.8) and shared the most games played with many of her teammates at 34 games.
The sky is the ceiling for the women’s basketball team, and next season could be the best season yet.