Photo: Connor McCourtney
Led by the dynamic duo of junior Rachael Hackbarth and senior Kristin Turk, Drake easily handled favored Creighton 65-54 in both teams’ last regular season game.
Hackbarth finished with a team-high 23 points and also brought down seven rebounds. Turk, who leads the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring at 19.8 points per game, contributed 18 points and seven rebounds as well.
The Bulldogs took a 34-24 lead into the break and never looked back. Creighton could not cut the lead to single digits in the second half.
Drake improved its conference record to 9-9 and its overall record to 15-14. With the victory, the Bulldogs earned a first-round bye in next week’s State Farm MVC Tournament. Drake finished in sixth and will square-off against the third seed Missouri State this Friday.
The Bears swept the Bulldogs this season. Drake lost 90-61 to Missouri State at home and lost 92-82 on the road just two weeks ago.
“If I was going into the tournament, one of the last teams I would want to be playing is Drake,” head coach Amy Stephens said. “Because we have a lot of momentum, we’re winning games, we’re playing better defense and we’ve got our role players really stepping up.”
It surely was a special senior day at the Knapp Center. An estimated crowd of 2,691 came out to see Drake take on its bitter rival. Seniors Ellie Ritscher and Turk were honored before the game and certainly enjoyed their last game at home.
Both teams traded blows early on, but it was Drake who would take command of the game late in the first half. With Creighton leading 22-17 at the 6:57 mark, the Bulldogs closed the half on a 17-2 run as the Bluejays missed 14 of their last 15 shots of the half.
“I thought our effort was outstanding,” Stephens said. “We really played like a team that wanted to win.”
The Bulldogs led by as many as 17 points in the second half and exchanged baskets with the Bluejays most of the way, keeping a comfortable lead all throughout. Creighton’s full court press rattled Drake in the second half, but Hackbarth and Turk provided all the offense that was needed.
“I’m sad it was my last game but I couldn’t have asked for a better season, a better back nine that we’ve had so I’ve just been really excited all around,” Ritscher said.
Junior Alex Montgomery provided six points off the bench and junior Amber Wollschlager added eight points, five rebounds and four assists.
Drake shot the ball extremely well, matching its best shooting performance of the season at 49.2 percent from the field. Not only that, but the Bulldogs also held Creighton to 30.2 percent, the lowest they’ve held any opponent this year.
“I don’t really like to get caught up in the emotions of senior night because it’s over when it’s over and it’s not over yet,” Turk said. “We still have games ahead of us.”
The Bulldogs will tip-off against the Bears at 8:35 p.m. this Friday in St. Charles, Mo.
They hope they can carry their momentum from the Creighton victory into the quarterfinal match.
“We are ready to go and we are ready to fight and we are ready for the tournament,” Turk said. “This is just another game, it was a great win.”