The Drake women’s basketball team has returned to a familiar habit: winning.
After dropping five of their previous six, the Bulldogs have won three straight and sit at the No. 2 spot in the Missouri Valley Conference standings with a 10-5 (3-1) record, half a game behind Loyola.
It’s so far been a season of peaks and valleys. Drake reeled off six straight victories to begin the nonconference season, averaging 81 points per game in victories over the likes of Iowa State, Wisconsin and Creighton. Then the roller coaster started down the loop. The Bulldogs lost four of the final five games of the nonconference slate, the only victory coming over Division III William Penn, 100-61. The MVC season started with a 10-point setback to Southern Illinois on New Years.
Only two games from .500, Drake responded by winning its next three games by an average of 26 points. A big win over Evansville preceded two away victories over Missouri State and Wichita State. It was the first time since 2009 that the Bulldogs had beaten the Bears and Shockers away from the Knapp Center.
As she usually does, Lizzy Wendell led the Bulldogs in scoring in both victories, scoring 19 against the Bears and 27 against the Shockers. The junior from Blue Springs, Missouri, leads the MVC in scoring at 21 points per game.
Freshman Sarah Rhine earned the MVC newcomer of the week honors. She put up a 14-point and 7.5-board performance in last week’s victories. Rhine has been a force off the bench in her first Drake season, averaging 12 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and putting her squarely in the race for the MVC freshman player of the year.
Junior Caitlin Ingle is climbing her way through the Drake record books. Her 407 assists are good for seventh in the program’s history. Halfway through her junior year, she’s a near lock to finish in the t0p three by the end of her career.
Drake will try to take the top spot in the MVC standings this weekend, hosting Indiana State Friday at 7 p.m. and Illinois State Sunday at 6 p.m.