Photo: Connor McCourtney
Drake’s Kristin Turk, now a four-time MVC Player of the Week, and the Bulldogs will face-off against Missouri State and Wichita State this weekend.
As the Bulldogs take to the road, they bring with them the momentum of two hard-fought wins against Illinois State and Indiana State. Both teams were ranked higher than Drake in the Valley standings going into the contests.
Drake sits just one-half game away from Missouri State for the fourth place spot in the Valley standings, so both of this weekend’s games are key in determining the team’s seed in the conference tournament.
“We need to take it just one game at a time,” head coach Amy Stephens said after the Indiana State win Saturday afternoon.
Stephens recognizes that this weekend’s games are key in the positioning for the tournament.
Considering the Valley’s percentage of home wins so far this season, the upcoming road games will be even more difficult for the Bulldogs.
Valley teams overall are 45-27 on home turf, and Missouri State and Wichita State are no exception.
Friday night’s contest against Missouri State will begin at 7:05 p.m. in Springfield.
Missouri State’s Casey Garrison will probably compete with Turk for the most points in the game.
The two have battled for the top scoring average in the league since the start of the season. Garrison claimed the title last year, but sits 2.2 points per game behind Turk so far this season. Garrison averages 18.1 points per game, while Turk scores 20.3 points per game.
If Turk can manage to keep up her 20-point scoring average, she’ll be the first player in the Valley to do so in five years.
Missouri State will bring a few other strengths to the table Friday. The Bears are currently ranked No. 5 in the NCAA for blocks per game and No. 8 in field goal percentage defense.
Wichita State will also challenge Drake next Sunday with its home-court atmosphere.
The Shockers earned a 69-52 win over the Bears last Thursday at Wichita State’s Charles Koch Arena.
The top scorers were junior standout Haliegh Lankster with 18 points and sophomores Michelle Price and Jessica Diamond with 16 and 12 points, respectively.
The Bulldogs shut down opposing offensive threats in both games last weekend and will look to continue that pattern on the road.
“I’m excited for what’s to come,” junior Amber Wollschlager said. “We’ve just been playing as a team recently, and that’s what we kind of got away from early in conference play.”
In this second half of the season, teams know what to expect from Turk, and she’s been marked tightly in the past few games. Wollschlager and junior Rachael Hackbarth, in addition to Turk, have proven themselves as powerful contributors on the scoreboard.
“That’s been the key to our team all season long, that our three key upperclassmen come to compete,” Stephens said. “When they come to play, we win games.”