Story by Mike Wendlandt
Drake’s up-and-down season continues after falling to Missouri State 78-72 on Sunday, Jan. 27, thanks to 71 percent shooting in the second half by the Bears. Drake fell to 9-11 overall and 3-6 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Leading the way for the Bulldogs was senior Ben Simons with 19 points, shooting 67 percent from the field.
Also continuing his strong freshman campaign was Micah Mason, who scored 17 points. As a team, however, Drake shot only 46 percent from the field, compared to Missouri State’s 56 percent.
The big scorer for the Bears was Anthony Downing, who registered 26 points in the contest, 18 of which came in the second half on 10-of-17 shooting.
“It was a tough game, and at the end, we didn’t have the ability to stop Anthony Downing,” said head coach Mark Phelps in a Drake athletics press release.
Yet again, poor free throw shooting plagued the Bulldogs as they converted only half of their 14 attempts during the game, while also allowing 27 attempts for the Bears.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with Drake behind by one at the half. However, an 11-0 run by the Bulldogs gave them a 39-29 lead over the early portion of the second half. Drake’s momentum dwindled as Missouri State started chipping away, especially in the paint, where it outscored Drake 34-24.
The Bulldogs kept the lead for the first 13 minutes of the second half, but a dunk by Keith Pickens gave the Bears the lead for the first time since halftime, and Missouri State started pulling away.
The closest Drake got to a tied game was when Simons hit a jumper with 96 seconds left to make it a 70-65 game, but a quick 3-pointer by Missouri State put the game out of reach, and free throws sealed the victory for the Bears, who improved to 4-5 in MVC play.
Next up for the Bulldogs is Southern Illinois, where Drake will look to improve its standing on the road on Wednesday night. Tip-off is at 7:05 p.m.