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‘Attacking mentality’ drives Drake to victory

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Photo: Joel Venzke

When Kyndal Clark entered the Knapp Center on Wednesday night, a single word guided the sophomore guard: attack. The Bulldogs followed Clark’s lead, using their outside attack to topple Upper Iowa in exhibition play, 81-51.

Clark tallied a game-high 25 points against the Peacocks on 11-of-17 shooting. Though her sharp shooting caught the crowd’s attention, Clark credited the performance to her teammates.

“This year, I know that I have to come out with an attacking mentality, and so I try to establish my inside presence first and then just kind of read what they’re giving me,” Clark said. “Not only that, I’m trying to read my teammates and get them open shots. They did a great job of finding me tonight.”

The teams traded 3-pointers throughout Wednesday’s contest, but Drake edged Upper Iowa with 46.7 percent shooting behind the arc. Redshirt sophomore guard Carly Grenfell led Drake’s perimeter attack, sinking 3-of-4 3-pointers en route to 20 total points.

With Drake down 9-8, Grenfell drained a key 3-pointer. A possession later, she scored inside to stretch Drake’s lead to 13-9.

“Carly (Grenfell) is a great shooter, and she has really been putting the time in on her own, and I think it’s really showing,” Clark said. “The last couple of games, she has been hitting them, and she’s hitting them in practice and they’re well-deserved.”

Drake’s inside attack complemented its perimeter play on Wednesday as the Bulldogs outscored Upper Iowa 44-18 in the paint.

In the first half, the Bulldogs used back-to-back layups to take a double-digit lead. With Drake up 24-15, sophomore forward Liza Heap scored inside. Upper Iowa’s next possession ended quickly as junior forward Morgan Reid stole the ball. Reid charged down the court to complete the play with a layup, extending Drake’s lead to 26-15.

Drake would never relinquish its double-digit advantage, using a combination of inside and outside scoring to topple the Division II Peacocks.

Though the Bulldogs dominated offensively behind the arc, their three-point defense faltered against Upper Iowa.

“Part of our emphasis for this game was to get out and guard them on the three because we knew that they were three-point shooters,” Clark said. “We didn’t get out as much as we wanted to, and that’s something we need to work on.”

The Bulldogs’ new, fast-paced system features a new, teamwork-oriented defense.

“We want to try to contest the shot first and contain the defense, but then also, be able to allow ball pressure and then be able to rely on our help defense,” Clark said. “A lot of what they are teaching us right now is to be able to put pressure but know that someone is going to be there to help you out.”

Though the Bulldogs’ 2012-13 record won’t include Wednesday’s exhibition win, the victory gave fans a glimpse of the entire Drake lineup. All 13 Bulldogs played against the Peacocks

“We got to see some people play a little bit more, and it was just fun,” said head coach Jennie Baranczyk. “I think that’s one of the most important things to do, especially in the exhibition games and especially in our early play, is to get as many minutes as we can. You never know when someone’s number is going to be called.”

The 81-51 victory gave Baranczyk a glimpse of the young Bulldogs’ development as Wednesday’s game marked their second try at the new, up-tempo system.

“I’d like to see some three-point defense, maybe, but in all, we were very selective tonight with our three-point shot, and I think that worked for us,” Baranczyk said. “I think that was why (we won). We did a great job of attacking the rim, and when we couldn’t get to the rim, we went out for the three and knocked them down.”

The Bulldogs are back in action against Illinois at Chicago on Sunday at the Knapp Center. Tip-off is set for 2:05 p.m.

Drake took on South Dakota on Sunday (Nov. 11) at the Knapp Center. Results from that game will be available in Thursday’s issue of The Times-Delphic.

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