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Bulldogs drop season opener to Bowling Green

STORY BY MIKE WENDLANDT

The Drake men’s basketball team opened its season with  struggles on both sides of the ball and fell to the Bowling Green Falcons, 77-58, Saturday afternoon at the Knapp Center.

Only suiting up nine players because of the suspensions of seniors Gary Ricks Jr. and Karl Madison. Foul trouble tested the Drake bench early and often. Further defensive struggles allowed the Falcons to hit 63 percent of their shots in the first half.

Drake’s offense struggled to get off the ground and the Bulldogs were never able to build a lead in the contest.

The Bulldogs kept things close for the first 10 minutes, before the consistent shooting from Bowling Green wore the Drake defense down.

“I thought we did a pretty good job in the first 10 minutes,” said Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti. “They just hit contested looks. They were a lot better of a shooting team than we anticipated.”

Drake was paced by freshman guard Reed Timmer, who led Drake in scoring after tallying 12 of his 16 points in the first half.

Timmer was the bright spot in a tough game for Drake, playing all 40 minutes of his first collegiate basketball game.

“Reed’s a four-year starter here,” Giacoletti said. “He’s somebody that we’re going to build around. He’s a point guard, but he can also shoot really well and will continue to get better.”

Bowling Green got on the board early with a 10-foot jumper from senior forward Rishaun Holmes and never looked back, using his presence as a building block for an inside-out game that gave the Drake defense fits.

Playing a 2-3 zone for most of the game, the Bulldogs’ rotation appeared to be a tick late in getting to the open man, leading to open shots that fell consistently for the Falcons.

As the defensive struggles continued for the Bulldogs, the offensive woes began after Drake started forcing contested shots and driving aggressively into the teeth of the Bowling Green defense.

Holmes recorded five rejections in the game.

“We don’t want guys to get into situations that can cause problems, whether that’s kicking out on a drive, and making smart decisions around the rim,” Giacoletti said.

Drake trailed 47-31 at the half.

After a halftime ceremony officially dedicating the new Shivers Practice Facility, Bowling Green picked up where they left off in the first period.

The Falcons went on 5-0, 7-0 and 8-2 runs that extended their lead as Drake tried to hold on.

Guard Chris Caird picked up his fourth foul early in the second half. His absence further handcuffed the already shorthanded Drake roster, which had four freshmen on the court at times.

“This game’s about having guys who’ve been through the war, and understanding the little things, and we’ll get better than that over time,” Giacoletti said.

As the final 10 minutes ticked off the clock, Drake attempted to establish an offensive identity by getting the ball down low to seven-foot center Jacob Enevold Jensen, who finished with 10 points and five rebounds on the afternoon.

Freshman guard C.J. Rivers led Drake in rebounding after collecting a game-high eight in 26 minutes on the court. Rivers added six points and three assists to his stat line.

Timmer led all players with six assists on the afternoon.

In the end, though, the Falcons offense was too much for the depleted Bulldogs. The early shooting success for the Falcons led to a 52 shooting percentage. Drake shot only 37 percent.

Drake travelled to DePaul last night and heads to Western Michigan on Nov. 22. They return to the Knapp Center on Nov. 25 for a matchup against IUPUI.

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