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Basketball Sports

Win over in-state rival UNI boosts Drake morale

Story by Ashley Beall
Photo by Joel Venzke

WBbalBW-w2000-h2000Coming off a win this past weekend against UNI, the Drake women’s basketball team is ready to face Creighton this Sunday in Omaha.

“We played great together as a team against UNI, and in practice we have been playing well, so I think it will definitely carry over to the Creighton game,” said freshman Ashley Bartow.

The Bulldogs are currently 4-11 in the Missouri Valley Conference and are in ninth place.  This will be the second time the Bulldogs face the Bluejays this season after losing to them 71-98 on Feb. 2 at the Knapp Center. Drake looks to even the score and come off with a win this weekend thanks to some offensive and defensive changes.

“We really need to buckle down on defense,” said sophomore Cara Lutes. “Last time, we allowed too many points. They hit a lot of shots, so we need to make sure we get out on the shooters and really make defense a priority.”

As to how the Bulldogs have prepared for this game, they’ve been working at practices to better prepare themselves for Creighton this time around.

“We’ve been preparing like we do each week for games,” Lutes said. “We focus on the scouting reports for Creighton and the coaches and our practice squads will emulate what the players on Creighton do. The most important thing is that we focus on ourselves right now and our development.”

The Bluejays are ranked second in the Missouri Valley Conference with a conference record of 12-3. After coming off an 83-65 win against Bradley, Creighton is looking tough to beat. The Bluejays are led in scoring by juniors Marissa Jennings with 13.1 points per game and Sarah Nelson with 11.9 points.

While Jennings and Nelson are two of the teams’ leaders in highest averaged points a game, the Bulldogs acknowledge that the Bluejays are a team composed of strong shooters. However, Drake looks to shut them down defensively.

“All of their players can score, so all of them are a priority,” Lutes said. “We just need to focus on team defense.”

This upcoming game will be a tough one, but if the Bulldogs are to come out on top, they need to play together as a team. As exhibited this past weekend against UNI, great things happen when Drake is able to come together and play as one unit.

“We just need to play together like we have been and what we’ve been trying to accomplish,” Bartow said.

The Bulldogs are set to play Sunday at 2:05 p.m. at D.J. Sokol Arena in Omaha, Neb.

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