STORY BY MICHAEL WENDLANDT
A chance at a perfect conference season came to an end Thursday night as the Drake Women’s Basketball team fell to Southern Illinois 81-76, but the Bulldogs turned it around on Sunday at Illinois State.
Led by Lizzy Wendell with 27 points, the Bulldogs and the Salukis traded the lead 17 times and were tied on 10 separate occasions in one of the most exciting games of the Missouri Valley Conference season.
“Southern is a very good team and so are we, but we didn’t show that tonight. We got rattled and this is part of the maturity process,” head coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “You have to bring it every game and I don’t think we brought it defensively tonight and we needed to.”
The Bulldogs got off to a fast start behind some strong shooting from Wendell, but Southern Illinois fought back, trimming Drake’s lead to one at halftime.
Drake held a six-point lead with six minutes to play, but the Salukis tied the game with a 6-0 run, fueled by Dyanna Pierce.
The Bulldogs pulled within one when Wendell hit a three with 52 seconds left, but Southern Illinois matched it with a three of their own. Free throws iced the game for Southern Illinois, ending the Bulldogs’ longest conference winning streak since 1998.
Ingle contributed 15 assists in the game, tying a career high, to go along with 17 points and six rebounds.
Ingle was also named to the watch list for the Nancy Lieberman Award on Friday, the award given to the best point guard in the NCAA. Ingle is currently sixth in the nation in assists per game and first in the MVC. She also had one of the 16 triple-doubles in NCAA this season, the first triple-double in five years for the MVC.
The Bulldogs traveled to Illinois State two days later and bounced back in a big way, rolling over the Redbirds 70-47. Drake never trailed, coasting to an easy victory and rising to 10-1 in conference play.
Leading the way was Maddy Dean, scoring 27 points and snagging nine rebounds in the effort. However, her nine boards were only fourth on the team. Wendell, Ingle, and Cara Lutes all had double-doubles with 10 rebounds apiece, this game marking Ingle’s third consecutive double-double.
The Bulldogs shot 42 percent from the field while holding the Redbirds to just 25 percent.
The Bulldogs took a 17-4 lead after the first 12 minutes and the lead was never less than eight for the rest of the half. The Bulldogs entered the locker room up 29-18.
The Redbirds chipped away at the Bulldog lead early in the second half, closing the lead to five with 13:50 remaining, but that was as close as they would get as Drake responded with a 10-0 run, powered by six points from Wendell.
Dean helped seal the game by scoring 11 of Drake’s final 20 points to give Drake the win.
The Bulldogs now returns home for the annual “Hoops 4 Hope” game as Northern Iowa comes to town Friday. The game will be broadcasted on KRNT, 94.1 THE DOG and ESPN3.