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Bulldogs must earn road wins after 1-3 home swing

Photo: Alex Masica

Drake is looking for a lucky streak.  And with lucky No. 7 on their side, the Bulldogs are optimistic.  Just seven regular season games remain, and Drake is eager to move forward following a disappointing four-game Knapp Center swing.

Last Saturday, Wichita State dismissed Drake 74-56 on the Ron Pearson Court, concluding the Bulldogs’ four-game home stand.  The defeat dropped Drake to fifth place in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Bulldogs notched just one victory during the home stand.

On Sunday, Drake travels to Evansville, Ind., to take on the Purple Aces. The Bulldogs take on Southern Illinois in Carbondale, Ill., tonight.

Despite a frustrating home streak, the Bulldogs’ competitive spirit endures.

“We just need to not always focus on the losses, but on how we competed and how we keep getting better going into the next few games,” said junior forward and center Stephanie Running.

With that mantra in mind, Drake looks to play with energy and consistency against a struggling Purple Aces squad.

At 4-18 overall and 1-10 in the MVC, Evansville sits in last place. Despite a difficult season, the Purple Aces boast two players averaging double figures in scoring.

Samantha Heck leads Evansville with 13.6 points per game.  Briyana Blair averages 10.5 tallies per game alongside 9.7 rebounds.

The Purple Aces earned their sole conference victory on Jan. 8 against Bradley, a team that Drake routed 77-62 on Jan. 27.

After Drake’s trip to Evansville, the team returns to the Knapp Center on Feb. 17 to pursue its second win this season over Indiana State. At 10-12 overall and 4-6 in MVC play, the Sycamores are just a game behind Drake in the conference standings. The Bulldogs are 11-11 overall and 5-6 in the MVC.

Wichita State is the Valley’s front-runner with a 9-2 MVC record.  Missouri State and Northern Iowa are both one victory behind the Shockers at 8-3 in the league, followed by third place Illinois State at 7-3.

Despite a troublesome Knapp Center swing, senior forward Rachael Hackbarth said that she is confident entering the regular season’s home stretch.

“That’s part of the game of basketball,” Hackbarth said. “You’re going to go through slumps, and you’re going to go through your highs and your lows, and you just can’t let games like this get you so far down that you can’t come back because there’s still plenty of the season left.”

For the Bulldogs, postseason aspirations remain forefront.  Before the State Farm MVC Championship begins on March 8, though, Drake looks to finish the regular season on a lucky seven game winning streak.

“They’re all winnable games,” Drake head coach Amy Stephens said.  “It’s just, which team is going to show up?  Which team is going to show up in practice?  It becomes key for us.”

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