By, HANNAH COHEN
In their 2018 home opener weekend, Drake women’s basketball tacked on another two wins to their 4-0 undefeated season record giving South Dakota (2-1) their first loss and defeating CSUN (1-3) with leads of at least 10. Their first match was against South Dakota in the Knapp on Thursday with a huge crowd of 5,511 to start the season off strong.
“I think we had a great crowd and great energy in that game,” head coach Jennie Barancyzk said. “It was a really good win for us and I really do think that South Dakota is a very good basketball team and for us to come out with a win is a big deal.”
Drake maintained a lead this entire game leaving the Coyotes to trail behind except for one tie score in the second quarter where both teams added 18 points to the board where Drake’s field goal percentage as a whole was averaged at 35 percent. Despite the challenge in this quarter, the Bulldogs still prevailed and from then on managed to keep a lead to finish the rest of the game strong.
“[When we get over .500 averages from most of the team] it’s a testament to our offense,” Maddy Dean, guard, said. “When people are shooting well, it means we’re getting high-quality shots, we’re passing to make good shots and it’s a really good style to play in.”
The Bulldogs had their biggest lead in the fourth quarter by 17 points. Baranczyk noted this is what makes Drake basketball enjoyable for all parties involved, the coaching staff and audience included.
“Offense is our thing, and that’s typically what we’ve been able to do,” Baranczyk said. “We really like to have balanced scoring, set each other up and have assists, so I think we obviously we want to play [more] defense.”
Sunday’s match began with visitor CSUN getting a 7-0 lead in the first minute and a half of the game. With guard Becca Hittner and forward Sarah Rhine adding points on the board to catch Drake up with only a three-point deficit, Nicole Miller, guard, and Rhine shot consecutive threes giving Drake a 13-10 lead and maintaining dominance throughout the rest of the match. The second quarter didn’t go as well for the Bulldogs, only adding 11 points to the board making it a seven point game.
“In the first half we struggled a little bit getting our flow in offense and just being us,” Rhine said. “I thought the second half got better in terms of being more creative and setting people up to play off one another better and make it easier [on everyone].”
The intensity built up throughout the match as with just three minutes left in the fourth quarter, CSUN was only four points behind Drake. From then on, the Bulldogs added seven more to the board and only let the Matadors add one more point, giving Drake a 73-63 dub with an even bigger crowd of over 2,345.
“I think they challenged us and stifled us in a lot of things,” Baranczyk said. “We’re going to come away and say, ‘OK we had two quarters where we didn’t shoot the ball very well,’ and part of that is you have to credit the other team. I think we missed a lot of shots we normally do make but I do think that [since] we were able to not necessarily play our A-game and get a win that’s a big deal against a good team.”
The Bulldogs next head up to Vancouver to play in the Vancouver Showcase over Thanksgiving break. Their first match will be against Rutgers University on Nov. 22 and then will play Notre Dame and Gonzaga on the 23rd to determine how the rest of the tourney will play out.
“Now that we’re going on the road, [we have to] use [these wins] as momentum going forward,” Rhine said.
Although Dean and Rhine said they will miss the environment of the Knapp since they then go to Creighton prior to returning for one match against Clarke University Dec. 4, they have great fans and are excited to play games away and on other territory.
“Going forward, we’re going to watch the film, take what we can from this match and head up to Vancouver,” Dean said. “[We can’t wait].”
PHOTO OF DRAKE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM IN ACTION | PHOTO BY HANNAH COHEN