With one second remaining on the game clock, Rachael Hackbarth launched a three-quarter court shot. Like Hackbarth’s last second shot, the Drake women’s basketball team came up short against Northern Iowa on Sunday afternoon at the McLeod Center, 68-66.
The Bulldogs opened the MVC showdown with sharp shooting, sinking 12-of-23 attempts en route to 52.2 percent first-half shooting from the floor.
Drake needed less than three minutes to capture the momentum.
Just six seconds after the opening whistle, Hackbarth knocked down a jumper.
Redshirt freshman Carly Grenfell then drained a 3-pointer, giving the Bulldogs an early two-possession advantage at 5-0.
Two minutes later, sophomore Morgan Reid drove to the basket for a layup to put the Bulldogs up 7-0.
Drake entered the locker room with a seven-point advantage at 32-25, holding the Panthers to just 34.5 percent first-half shooting.
“We did a great job executing (the first half),” said Drake head coach Amy Stephens. “We defended really well. We rebounded well.”
Despite shaky first-half shooting, UNI gained momentum early in the second stanza. The Panthers powered a 13-2 offensive run in the first four minutes, pushing them into the lead at 38-34.
Reid’s jumper swished through the hoop, stifling the Panthers’ offensive drive. The Bulldogs’ answered UNI’s offensive statement with a 9-2 run of their own, securing a 43-40 lead at the 12:02 mark.
With just over 11 minutes remaining on the game clock, UNI’s Brooke Brown eliminated Drake’s lead with a 3-pointer, evening the scoreboard at 43 points apiece.
Senior guard Amber Wollschlager retaliated with a trey to give the Bulldogs a 46-43 edge.
The last 11 minutes marked a back-and-forth battle, as neither team held a lead larger than four points.
Freshman Kyndal Clark nailed two free throws at the 7:41 mark, putting Drake ahead 54-51. This was the last lead the Bulldogs held.
Less than a minute later, the Panthers’ Katelin Oney drained a 3-pointer, giving UNI the lead for good at 55-54.
At the 1:20 mark, Clark knocked down a jumper to close within a single possession at 66-64.
Drake’s defense forced a Panther miss on the next possession, and the Bulldogs nabbed the rebound. With an opportunity to even the scoreboard or take the lead, Drake handed the ball to Reid, but her jumper fell short.
UNI’s K.K. Armstrong grabbed the rebound, and a Bulldog foul sent her to the free throw line. Armstrong’s first shot rolled out, giving Drake another offensive opportunity.
After a Panther timeout, Hackbarth’s jumper rimmed out and Armstrong nabbed the rebound. The Bulldogs immediately fouled Armstrong, sending her to the charity stripe again.
Both shots swished through the hoop, giving the Panthers a two-possession advantage at 68-64.
With 12 seconds remaining on the game clock, Clark drove to the basket for a layup, narrowing Drake’s deficit to a single basket at 68-66.
The Bulldogs fouled Oney promptly, sending her to the free throw line. Both shots ricocheted off the rim, giving Drake one last shot with a second left.
Hackbarth’s desperation shot fell short, and UNI earned a home court victory.
Twenty-two turnovers doomed Drake against the Panthers.
“We had some timely turnovers that hurt us,” Stephens said.
Sunday’s heartbreaking defeat dropped Drake to 14-14 overall and 8-9 in the MVC. Drake sits in sixth place.
Three Bulldogs scored in double figures against the Panthers.
Clark led Drake with a career-high 21 points.
“Kyndal (Clark) had a terrific weekend,” Stephens said.
Hackbarth registered her 21st double-double of the 2011-12 season with 20 points and a team-high 18 rebounds. She sits in first place nationally for the most double-doubles this season.
Reid chipped in 11 points.
Armstrong led the Panthers with 23 points.
Drake returns to the Knapp Center at 2:05 p.m. Saturday in pursuit of a second win over Creighton.
On Dec. 31, the Bulldogs edged the Bluejays 47-44 in Omaha, Neb. Two months later, though, Stephens anticipates a revamped Creighton team.
“Creighton is a much improved team,” Stephens said. “They’ll be much different from the first time.”
Despite Sunday’s last-second loss, Stephens is confident in her team’s continued improvement.
“As a team, we’re moving the ball better,” she said. “We’re defending well. I liked our chemistry despite the loss. Our chemistry is really coming together.”