Photo: Elizabeth Robinson
Sixth place is not atop the Missouri Valley Conference ladder, but for the Drake women’s basketball team, it is a step in the right direction.
The Bulldogs rallied from a four-point halftime deficit to beat Bradley 77-65 last Friday at the Renaissance Coliseum in Peoria, Ill., pushing Drake into sixth place at 14-13 overall and 8-8 in the MVC. To bypass the State Farm MVC Championship’s opening round on March 8, the Bulldogs must finish regular season play above seventh place.
After the Jan. 27 back-and-forth battle against the Braves, Drake head coach Amy Stephens anticipated another competitive contest.
“We just wanted to go out and execute the game plan like the first time we played them,” Stephens said.
Sophomore Morgan Reid revved the Bulldogs’ offensive engine, scoring six points in the game’s first five minutes en route to a 12-8 advantage.
After the initial media timeout, redshirt freshman Carly Grenfell netted eight points.
“Carly (Grenfell) was very efficient on the offensive end,” Stephens said.
Freshman guard Kyndal Clark completed Drake’s early offensive push with a 3-pointer, giving the Bulldogs an 11-point advantage at 21-10.
Despite Drake’s early scoring streak, the Braves powered a 15-3 offensive run in the first half’s final minutes to lift Bradley to the lead at the break, 37-33.
The second half’s opening minutes mirrored the first half’s final minutes as Bradley sprinted to an early nine-point advantage on several Bulldog turnovers.
Drake refocused after the second stanza’s rocky start, and the Bulldogs closed out the victory. The Bulldogs shot 53.1 percent from the floor for the game.
Four Bulldogs scored in double figures against the Braves.
Clark registered a career-high 20 points, including hitting 3-of-4 from 3-point land.
“Kyndal (Clark) just did a good job of managing the offense,” Stephens said. “She didn’t need a lot of shots to get those 20 points.”
Senior Rachael Hackbarth earned her 20th double-double of the 2011-12 season with 15 points and 10 rebounds. She sits in first place nationally for the most double-doubles this season.
Hackbarth leads the MVC in scoring and rebounding with 19.7 and 11.2 rebounds per game.
Reid and Grenfell contributed identical 16-point efforts, a career-high mark for both players. On the defensive front, Reid nabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and added seven assists.
“Morgan Reid was incredible,” Stephens said. “Her effort was really, really great.”
Catie O’Leary led Bradley with 18 points.
With just one regular season game remaining, the Bulldogs will focus on reducing turnovers, Stephens said.
For Stephens, last Friday’s victory was a testament to her team’s “one game at a time” mindset.
“Our team was really resilient,” Stephens said. “It was a terrific game; great effort by our players.”
The Bulldogs took on Northern Iowa on the road yesterday. Details from that game will be available in the next issue of The Times-Delphic.