Bulldogs now riding a six-game winning streak; retain No. 24 in AP rankings
By HANNAH COHEN
The Bulldogs took on Evansville (1-13 MVC) and Indiana State (11-15 MVC) this past weekend to finish off their February homestand and keep their first-place rank in the Valley and AP No. 24 rank. They first faced Evansville on Friday and got a 66-39 win and held the Aces to only scoring three points in the third quarter, the fewest Drake has allowed in a quarter since the switch to the quarter system in 2015.
To add to the two wins, Sara Rhine surpassed her 1,500-career point mark in her second basket in the Evansville game, Brenni Rose had a conference high of 13 points to lead just behind Rhine and Becca Hittner got a game-high 33 points versus the Sycamores. The Bulldogs held Indiana State to a third quarter of only scoring eight points.
The match against Indiana State started off less smoothly than the Evansville match, as both teams failed to put a basket in until three minutes in when Hittner stole the ball and Rhine put one up off the glass.
“We just tried to create a little bit too much,” head coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “You have to credit Indiana State, I think they do a great job on the defensive end and it was really hard when we came to halftime.”
As the first half continued, the lead changed 12 times and the Sycamores maintained a lead for the majority of the first quarter until Hittner and Sammie Bachrodt put up a couple of threes to get a 27-23 lead at the end of the first.
“I think we had our moments this game,” Hittner said. “We were able to bounce back from those moments that weren’t so good and reset ourselves and get back to playing [our game].”
In the second, both teams regrouped and went basket to basket with five more lead changes but Drake achieving a 48-43 edge on the Sycamores, yet shooting percentage went from 70 in the first down to 33 in the second.
“I thought we did a really good job of having some fun today and getting some ball movement,” Hittner said. “We were really able to pick up the ball in the second and get some baskets out of that.”
After halftime the Bulldogs had their highest scoring quarter adding 28 to the board to get a solid lead and despite Indiana State getting 28 in the fourth, they still could not beat Drake. Other leaders in this game include Rhine with 21 points, Dean with 16 and Bachrodt with 10.
“They are a really physical team,” Baranczyk said. “It’s really nice when you can look at the stat sheets and [see that] we are sharing the ball really well.”
Drake heads to Missouri State this weekend to seek revenge against the Bears and keep the conference lead after they head to Southern Illinois to play the Salukis March 1 at 6 p.m. Travel to Missouri State will be provided by Drake and students can sign up for bussing this week.