Photo: Matt Moran
The Bulldogs’ upset bid on the road came up short, as they went cold in the second half and fell to Missouri State 60-51.
For the second-straight game, the Bulldogs had a rough shooting performance and went nearly 12 minutes without a field goal in the second half.
Sophomore Aaron Hawley gave Drake the lead 39-38 with over 13 minutes to play in the game. Missouri State went on a 9-0 run and held Drake without a field goal until sophomore Ben Simons swished a 3-pointer to cut the Bears’ lead to 56-47 with 1:22 remaining.
“When we went through that drought, you could get really discouraged there and have a tendency to let your defense suffer,” head coach Mark Phelps said. “We’ve learned our lesson there.”
In the first half, both teams shot poorly from the field. The Bears shot 33 percent from the field, while the Bulldogs were slightly better at 41 percent but endured an extensive six-minute scoring drought. Drake went into the break tied 24-24.
For a while, it looked like the game was going to come down to the last possession. Before the Bulldogs went 11:52 without a field goal, the game had already had 13 lead changes and eight ties.
However, the Bulldogs’ shooting woes, primarily from behind-the-arc, were too much to overcome playing against the conference-leading Bears.
“For the most part we got pretty good looks, we just weren’t able to capitalize, knock them down,” fifth-year senior Ryan Wedel said.
Drake finished the game shooting only 34.7 percent from the field and went 4-for-23 from 3-point range, including just 1-for-13 in the second half.
“Those are guys you want shooting threes,” Phelps said. “We just needed a couple more of those to go down in the second half. It would have changed the complexion of the game.”
And while their offense did not have its best night, the defense held the Missouri Valley Conference leaders to just 60 points.
“I thought we really competed and played hard, and if we play like that defensively, you win a lot of games,” Wedel said.
Freshman Rayvonte Rice led the Bulldogs with 17 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore SethVanDeest contributed eight point and four rebounds.
Simons saw his streak of six consecutive games scoring in double-digits snapped, as he finished with six points and two rebounds.
This was the second straight loss for Drake, who had previously won three straight games. The Bulldogs are now 11-16 overall on the year and seventh in conference play with a 6-10 record.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs will host the Detroit Titans in ESPN’s Annual BracketBuster special. The Titans are currently sixth in the Horizon League and own a 14-14 record.
“They’re a very athletic team. They’re a very talented team,” Simons said. “We’re going to have to keep building on what we’ve been doing. And we are going to have to play a great defensive game.”
Drake will complete its final two-game home stand by squaring off against Evansville next Wednesday. These will be the last two home games of the season for the Bulldogs.
Missouri State remains tied with Wichita State for the MVC lead at 13-3. Northern Iowa trails in third at 10-6.
The Bulldogs have a chance to make up some ground against Evansville. The Purple Aces are 8-8, two games ahead of Drake for the sixth seed in the MVC tournament.
The top six teams in the Missouri Valley avoid the play-in games in the first round of the conference tournament.