STORY BY MIKE WENDLANT
The Drake women’s basketball team put together a short winning streak over the holiday weekend, winning two games in San Antonio to take home the 2014 UTSA Thanksgiving Classic title.
Just before their first game of the tournament, the Bulldogs learned that last year’s Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and team captain, Kyndal Clark, would miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury.
Still, though, Drake found a way to take down its two opponents, starting with the host University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) on Friday and the Fordham Rams on Sunday.
On Friday, Drake looked to capitalize on the momentum coming off its win against Wisconsin last week.
Against the Roadrunners, it was all sophomore forward Lizzy Wendell, who poured in a game-high 27 points to open her tournament MVP performance.
Maddy Dean continued her hot stretch as well, scoring 13 points off the bench to help the Bulldogs win the game, 69-61.
Wendell, who was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week before the tournament, scored 61 points between the UTSA and Wisconsin games, and continues to lead the conference in scoring with 22.5 points per game.
Drake only trailed when it was 5-2 early on in the first half. Solid shooting from the free throw line pushed Drake to a win, hitting 11 free throws down the stretch.
Shooting 72 percent from the line, the Bulldogs thwarted any comeback attempt from the Roadrunners in the second half and cruised to their third victory of the season.
“If you would’ve told me that we would hit as few threes as we did, I wouldn’t have though we’d score close to 70 points, let alone win the game,” said Drake head coach Jennie Baranczyk in a Drake athletics press release. “It’s a testament to the team’s fight and effort that we did just that.”
Sunday against Fordham was a different story entirely, as Drake was forced to come back late in the second half after leading most of the back-and-forth battle.
In a game featuring 14 lead changes and seven ties, the Bulldogs somehow found a way to close out the 62-56 victory over the Rams.
It was a game that was decided by clutch baskets from veterans Wendell, Caitlin Ingle, and tough rebounding from Carly Grenfell that opened up second-chance opportunities for the Bulldogs.
Becca Jonas continued her growth early in her freshman campaign, putting up her first double-double of her career by pulling down 10 rebounds and adding 13 points.
Wendell had a season-low 14 points, but hit two clutch 3-pointers late in the game to give the Bulldogs the lead.
Drake saw three players score in double figures, paced by Wendell and Jonas.
Ingle also registered 13 points to go along with eight rebounds on the day.
“These games will prepare us well for the conference season. There are a lot of learning moments, and we can take each of them and be a better team,” Baranczyk said.
Drake returns home tonight and looks to extend its winning streak against Colorado State at the Knapp Center. Tip-off is scheduled for at 7:05 p.m.