STORY BY MICHAEL WENDLANDT
The Drake Men’s Basketball team continued their growth with another Missouri Valley victory against Bradley on Wednesday night. The victory at the Knapp Center gave Drake their first season sweep of a foe since the 2012-2013 season. But the Bulldogs’ luck did not hold out, falling to Indiana State on Saturday.
Freshman guard Reed Timmer led the Bulldogs led with 19 points. Joining Timmer in double figures was senior Gary Ricks Jr., who had 12 points, shooting 2-2 from beyond the arc.
“We’ve been talking all month about playing our best ball in February,” coach Ray Giacoletti said. “We have been getting better all year and now the wins are coming in, matching our effort.”
An early run from Drake built up an 11 point lead at the 8:13 mark, capped off by a three-pointer from senior Jordan Daniels. The Braves responded immediately with an 11-0 run fueled by Tramique Sutherland, scoring six of those points.
The teams traded buckets back and forth until the half, Bradley in front 24-21 at the break.
“The key was hitting the big shots and getting the big stops,” Ricks said.
Drake continued to hang strong in the second half, getting the lead back early and keeping pace with the Braves. But big baskets continued to go in for
Bradley, Drake unable to put them away.
Bradley reclaimed the lead late, but back to back threes from Daniels and Timmer put Drake back on top. The Bulldogs hit their free throws to seal the deal, providing the final margin in their 60-54 victory. The win was Drake’s fourth in five games.
“We made them take tough shots and we got the rebounds and hit our free throws,” Timmer said.
“Everyone did their job and we came out on top,” Ricks added.
The stretch came to an end as Indiana State got revenge for their loss to Drake earlier in the season, rolling over the Bulldogs in Terra Haute, 75-54.
The game was all Indiana State all the way, never trailing. The Bulldogs kept it competitive throughout the first half for small stretches, but they couldn’t hold the Sycamores down.
Indiana State led 34-25 going into the half. Efficient shooting was the key for Indiana State, as they ended up shooting at 55 percent from the floor.
Forward Trevor Berkeley drained some clutch threes early in the second half, setting a career high with 18 points and keeping Drake close.
The Sycamores pulled away by forcing Drake into making mistakes and finding open looks on the offensive end, scoring 17 points and causing six turnovers in five minutes.
“We had a number of possessions where we turned over and they got layups on the other end,” Giacoletti said. “We fought our way back, but then could not execute at the end of the game.”
Timmer chipped in 14 points, but no other Bulldog broke into double digits. By contrast, Indiana State had five players with at least ten points.
Drake now sits in seventh place in the Missouri Valley with an 8-18 record overall and is 5-9 in conference play.