Photo: Alex Masica
Last Wednesday, Drake continued its free fall in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 64-53 loss at Illinois State.
Drake fell to 13-12 on the season and 6-8 in the MVC. Illinois State moved to 16-10, 8-7. The Bulldogs fell to seventh place after the loss.
The Redbirds’ Tyler Brown led all scorers with 26 points while Jackie Carmichael contributed 18 points and 20 rebounds.
The Bulldogs were without junior Ben Simons for the second-straight game due to mono. Redshirt freshman Jeremy Jeffers led Drake with 13 points. Junior Aaron Hawley added 12 points.
Sophomore Rayvonte Rice was just 3-of-11 from the field and scored 11 points. Redshirt freshman Karl Madison had nine points and six assists.
“I thought we battled,” head coach Mark Phelps said. “I thought we competed. We couldn’t get over the hump. We had a hard time scoring.”
The difference in the game came at the free throw line. Drake committed 20 fouls, and Illinois State converted 28-of-31 free throws. The Bulldogs converted just 7-of-13 free throws.
“I think we have to be more patient, be more confident,” Madison said. “When we run our sets, we got to trust that they are going to work.”
The Redbirds out-rebounded Drake 45-23. Senior Kraidon Woods led the Bulldogs with five boards.
“We really didn’t do a good job rebounding,” Phelps said. “That’s an obvious statement. Give them credit for getting to the free throw line 31 times.”
The Bulldogs struggled without the outside shooting of Simons, as Illinois State’s zone defense gave Drake trouble all game.
“With Ben Simons being out, Missouri State had some success against us playing zone (on Feb. 4),” Phelps said. “We know they (Illinois State) have zone in their package, and like a lot of teams, you go with it, see how it works and either stick with it or go to man.”
Drake has lost five of its last six games. The lone win comes from a triple-overtime victory over first-place Wichita State. Since that victory, the Bulldogs have dropped three straight decisions.
Drake took on Evansville last night. The Purple Aces were 7-7 heading into last night’s action. The Times-Delphic will have details from that game in the next issue.