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Bulldogs’ offense flatlines in 57-39 defeat to Missouri State

Photo: Alex Masica

Missouri State dealt the short-handed Drake Bulldogs an ugly 57-39 loss at the Knapp Center last Saturday night.

Drake (13-11, 6-7 MVC) drops into fifth place in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Bears (14-11, 7-6) are tied for third with Illinois State.

The Bulldogs were missing their second leading scorer in junior Ben Simons, who was diagnosed with Mononucleosis. Drake converted just 12 field goals while shooting 27.3 percent from the field.

Junior Aaron Hawley replaced Simons in the starting lineup, and he had a career-high four 3-pointers to lead the team with 12 points. Redshirt Jeremy Jeffers had nine points, while sophomore Rayvonte Rice was held to just six points.

“We were certainly not very good on offense tonight,” Drake head coach Mark Phelps said in a Drake athletics press release. “We missed Ben Simons, but you can’t blame our performance solely on that.”

Kyle Weems led Missouri State with 17 points, including making some tough shots in the first half. Anthony Downing added 12 points for the Bears.

“We turned down shots that we should have taken, and we took some shots that probably we should have not taken,” Phelps said. “If you get one field goal from two of your leading scorers, it’s going to be really, really tough (to win).”

At one point in the game, Drake went 11 minutes without a field goal. Missouri State, which completed a season sweep of the Bulldogs, led by as many as 25 points.

“We’ve got to get it together and have some good days of preparation leading into our next game on Wednesday (at Illinois State) and just fight through it,” Phelps added.

The Bulldogs also dropped a 61-54 decision at Indiana State last Wednesday.

Rice had 17 points in that contest, while Simons added 13. Simons was diagnosed with mono late Thursday night, Phelps said.

Drake shot just 33 percent from the field against the Sycamores (14-10, 5-8).

The Bulldogs rallied from an 11-point first half deficit and opened the second half with a quick 7-0 run to grab the lead. Indiana State, however, responded to put away the Bulldogs on their home court.

Dwayne Latham had 15 points and six rebounds for Indiana State. Jake Odum contributed 14 points and seven boards.

Drake can make up some ground in the MVC standings this Wednesday. The Bulldogs travel to Normal, Ill., to face off against Illinois State (15-9, 7-6) for a shot to move back into a tie for third place. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.

Drake returns to the Knapp Center this Sunday to take on Evansville at 7 p.m. The Purple Aces (11-12, 6-7) are tied with the Bulldogs heading into this week’s MVC action.


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