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The Perfect Storm

Photo: Chris Donahue

After a long night, the Bulldogs can breathe a sigh of relief.

Finally.

Drake outlasted first-place Wichita State 93-86 in three overtimes last Saturday night at the Knapp Center to notch the team’s biggest Missouri Valley Conference win of the season.

Junior Ben Simons had a career-high 29 points, and sophomore Rayvonte Rice recorded his second consecutive double-double and nearly missed the first triple-double in school history.

It was the first win out of four triple-overtime games in Drake history. The Bulldogs (13-9, 6-5 MVC) dealt the Shockers (18-4, 9-2) their first road loss of the season.

With 13 seconds remaining in the second half and Wichita State clinging to a 63-61 lead, Rice rebounded a missed free throw and made an outlet pass to Simons. Simons drove to the hoop and missed a contested layup, but senior Kraidon Woods followed with a put-back bucket to tie the game with two seconds left.

Rice, who had 19 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, stole the inbounds pass, and his 85-foot heave at the buzzer bounced off the rim, drawing a loud gasp from the crowd of 4,895.

Drake did not convert a field goal in the first overtime, but scored all seven of its points in the period at the free throw line. With the game tied at 70, Rice had another chance to win the game, but his long trey from the top of the key rimmed out.

The Bulldogs coughed up two six-point leads in the second overtime, but the Bulldogs rode Rice and senior Kurt Alexander. Alexander drilled a 3-pointer to put Drake up three with 18 seconds left, but Wichita State’s Ben Smith answered with a trey 10 seconds later to send the game to a third overtime.

Alexander continued to be a pivotal force, scoring six of Drake’s 11 points in the final overtime. Alexander finished with 17 points.

“Our team kept responding in a really exciting, intense, passionate and tough game,” head coach Mark Phelps said. “(Our guys) demonstrated toughness. They continued to respond, they were resilient. Everybody contributed.”

Simons played a team-high 53 minutes and was 11-of-22 from the field. He knocked down three shots from beyond the arc.

Redshirt freshman Jeremy Jeffers played 48 minutes and added 11 points. Woods had seven points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

With the win, Drake remains in a three-way tie for third place in the MVC. The Bulldogs are tied with Illinois State (14-8, 6-5) and Missouri State (13-10, 6-5). Drake defeated the Redbirds 77-60 at the Knapp Center on Jan. 5. The Bulldogs lost at Missouri State 72-61 on Dec. 31, but they get another shot at the Bears this Saturday at the Knapp Center. Drake travels to Illinois State on Feb. 8.

Creighton (20-2, 10-1) moves ahead of Wichita State for sole possession of first place in the MVC.

“That’s a top 25 basketball team. That’s a Sweet 16 type of basketball team that we were able to get by (Saturday night),” Phelps said about Wichita State. “It’s not surprising; it’s welcomed that we’re starting to put it together more consistently.”

Drake battled No. 14 Creighton last Wednesday night, but the Bluejays proved too much for the Bulldogs, as Drake dropped a 77-69 decision.

Sophomore Doug McDermott, considered by many to be the top candidate for the Larry Bird Player of the Year award in the MVC, scored 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Rice had 23 points and 11 rebounds for Drake. Simons added 18 points while Alexander contributed 16.

The Bulldogs fought back from a 15-point deficit in the second half to get as close as four, but Creighton withstood the rally.

Drake travels to Terre Haute, Ind., to take on Indiana State this Wednesday at 7 p.m. Tip-off for Saturday’s game against Missouri State is at 7:05 p.m.

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1 Comment

  1. Bulldog January 30, 2012

    Beast.
    Gotta continue the excellent play this time though.

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