Type to search

Basketball Sports

Tourney loss shuts door on season

Photo: Connor McCourtney

The season came to a close for the Drake women’s basketball squad when it failed to get past the Missouri State Bears in the State Farm MVC Tournament quarterfinals.

Drake fell behind at the half 47-30, but was able to make a game of it thanks to junior Rachael Hackbarth and senior Kristin Turk, who combined for 51 points. The comeback attempt fell short and the Bulldogs lost 86-77.

The team was incapable of figuring out a dynamic Missouri State team for the third time this season. Not only did the Bulldogs get swept by the Bears, but they also surrendered a whopping 89 points per game in their three contests.

“Missouri State seemed to play really well against us, which was frustrating,” Turk said. “They hit shots that they don’t usually hit. We made a run at the end, but it was too little, too late.”

And with that, Drake had to go back home with no postseason tournament for the third consecutive year. The Bulldogs finished 15-15 overall and 9-9 in the Valley, good for sixth in the conference.

“I wish our record could’ve reflected our hard work and determination,” Turk said. “We fought hard, which I think will carry on to next year’s team and help the program grow as a whole.”

While this young Bulldog squad felt some growing pains throughout the course of the season, there were also a lot of memorable moments and bright spots during the year.

For a team with only two seniors, the Bulldogs hung tough in the Valley, earning notable victories over Illinois State and rival Creighton. Not only that, but Drake had some quality wins during its non-conference schedule.

Over Thanksgiving break the team captured the Hilton Garden Inn Northern Arizona Thanksgiving Tournament by throttling Central Michigan and host Northern Arizona. The team also came close to defeating Wisconsin, another quality opponent.

“With every game we only got better and by the end of the second half of conference, we were connecting on all parts,” junior Alex Montgomery said. “It was fun to get better and improve and see the results in the wins we got.”

And while the season might have ended early for the Bulldogs, there is still a lot of promise for next year’s young squad. The biggest challenge, however, may be replacing Turk’s offensive prowess.

“Turk will be greatly missed on both ends of the court, but everyone just has to step up their game one more notch,” Montgomery said.

The Des Moines native had a career year, leading the Bulldogs in scoring, assists and steals. Turk finished the season averaging 20 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.7 steals per game. She led the conference in scoring and steals as well and was named to the All-MVC first team for the only time in her career.

In order for the Bulldogs to remain competitive in the MVC they will need their upperclassmen to step up their game and their young players to contribute even more.

“I think being a senior next year, my role will change, and I will have to be more of a leader than I have been in the past,” Montgomery said.
Junior co-captains Amber Wollschlager and Hackbarth will have to be huge in order for Drake to have a successful year.

“Rachael is going to be huge from a leadership standpoint on and off the court,” Turk said. “She was playing extremely well at the end of the season, and if she has a good offseason, she could own the Valley next year.”

Hackbarth will have to get used to more contact and more double-teams. Without Turk on the court for the outside-inside game, Hackbarth will command extra attention from the rest of the MVC, as she also had the best season of her career, averaging 14.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Drake will also get back junior Brittnye McSparron, who has torn her ACL the last two seasons.

“She is playing some of her best basketball right now, and she is going to be a stud next year,” Turk said.

The Bulldogs also get back freshman Angela Christianson, who missed the last 10 games of the season for the Bulldogs (except for the one minute of action she got in the MVC quarterfinal). She was the team’s third leading scorer and will need to increase her production.

With the continuing growth of this young Bulldog squad and the return of some pivotal players, Drake might just be able to gear up for another competitive year in the Valley. They will need to continue improving, but the squad still has high expectations for next season.

“My expectations for next season only go up from this year,” Montgomery said. “I think as a team we will build off of the end of this year and only get better.”

How it happened

The sixth seed Bulldogs fell 86-77 to the third seed Missouri State in the quarterfinals of the State Farm MVC tournament in St. Charles, Mo., on March 11. The Bears built up a 17-point lead at the half, and Drake’s 47-point rally in the second half was not enough to advance to the semifinals. Senior Kristin Turk scored 25 points in her final game, and junior Rachael Hackbarth continued her strong finish to the season with 26 points and nine rebounds. The Bears advanced to the tournament final, where they were ousted by regular-season champion and top seed Northern Iowa.


You Might also Like

Skip to content