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Bulldogs’ inspired effort falls short, lose to ISU 71-64

Photos: Derek Nipper

The Bulldogs knew Iowa State would bring the heat on Tuesday night and the Cyclones did just that, using a critical second half run to topple the Bulldogs 71-64 at the Knapp Center.  A 17-0 run late in the second half was all the Cyclones needed, snuffing the Bulldogs’ hopes to beat the in-state rival.

The Bulldogs (0-2) held the Cyclones in-check for the majority of the game, but it was the late surge that doomed Drake.

As a senior, forward Rachael Hackbarth was familiar with Iowa State’s style of play. This year, though, the Cyclones boasted a new approach to the game.

“It’s a new team this year and it’s not the same as a couple years ago,” Hackbarth said.

That new style of play proved troublesome in Tuesday’s contest as the Bulldog defense just couldn’t shake the Cyclone offense.

The season may be just underway, but Tuesday’s defeat showcased several Bulldog standouts in junior forward Stephanie Running and freshman guard Kyndal Clark.

With Iowa State’s early defensive focus on Hackbarth, Running sank shot after shot, surprising the Cyclones to lead the Bulldogs with a team-high (and career-high) 18 points. Clark focused her efforts behind the arc, downing three three-pointers en route to 15 points. Hackbarth also added 15 points.

The first half proved a back-and-forth affair as the teams battled for momentum.  Down by one at 11-12, Clark recorded the first three-pointer of the contest to give the Bulldogs a 14-12 advantage. Iowa State responded with a layup to even the score at 14-14, marking one of the seven ties.

A Drake foul sent Iowa State to the free throw line at 20-17 and the Cyclones sank both shots to close within one at 20-19.  Then, Running stepped in with a basket, pushing her into double digits with 10 points to give Drake a 22-19 lead.

The first half’s final tally came when a foul by senior guard Brittnye McSparron sent Iowa State to the free throw line and the Cyclones sank one of two attempts to narrow the Bulldogs’ lead to 26-24.

Running battled a bloody, potentially broken nose after she collided with an Iowa State elbow in the first half. Within minutes of the injury, she was back on the court, a true testament to her play, according to Drake head coach Amy Stephens.

“We are extremely proud of Steph’s (Running) performance. I think she showed a great deal of toughness,” said Stephens.  “To break your nose or get a pop like that takes a lot of toughness to get back in the game.”

Running shrugged off Tuesday’s injury, attributing her pain to basketball’s fast-paced, sometimes rough nature.

“It was a big elbow,” Running said. “It’s just basketball.”

It was all Drake to start the second half as the Bulldogs recorded a 12-4 run. A basket by McSparron secured a 38-28 lead. Then, Iowa State’s Brynn Williamson added two key three-pointers, lifting the Iowa State score and the Cyclones’ spirits, much to Drake’s dismay.

At 59-58, Drake committed another foul, sending Iowa State to the free throw line. The Cyclones netted one of two shots to even the score at 59-59.  Iowa State capitalized on the sudden shift in momentum, adding a basket to gain its first lead of the second half at 61-59.

The Cyclones didn’t stop there, scoring six straight points en route to a 67-59 advantage. Unable to regain control, the Bulldogs fell 71-64.

Despite a difficult loss, Stephens and the Bulldogs are looking at the silver lining as they aim to improve their defense and consistency in upcoming games.

“Unfortunately, it’s a forty minute game.  I’m really proud of the way our team played for 37 minutes,” Stephens said. “We didn’t execute in the last three minutes of the game.  We just put them to the free throw line too many times.”

A great three-point shooting team, the Cyclones got hot from behind-the-arc in the second half. After going 0-for-5 in the first half, Iowa State went 4-for-10 from deep in the second half.

“Just in the last three minutes of the game, they had players stepping up to hit the three who maybe weren’t earlier,” Hackbarth said.

The Bulldogs take on Milwaukee tomorrow night at the Knapp Center.  Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.


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