The nationally ranked Drake Bulldogs lost to an unranked Valparaiso team Sunday afternoon, 57-74, at the Athletics-Recreation Center in Valparaiso, Indiana. The loss ended Drake’s historic 18-0 perfect win streak.
“We’ve been on a very good run and even though we lost that particular night it doesn’t change the fact that we still have a lot to look forward to as we continue to compete for a conference title,” said Darian DeVries, head coach of the men’s basketball team.
Despite a 19-point effort by redshirt junior Roman Penn, Valpo delivered Drake its first loss in 338 days–the team’s first since March 2020. The Crusaders won by double digits, earning a 17-point win for their 7-12 program. The loss comes after the Bulldogs shot a mere 36.5 percent from the floor.
Penn paced the Bulldogs, leading the team with 17 second-half points. Senior ShanQuan Hemphill earned his second double-double of the season, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Sophomore Joseph Yesufu added another nine points.
The Crusaders pulled away in the second half, leaving Drake with its largest deficit this season at 20 points. Valpo held Drake to just 57 points, a season-low for the Bulldogs.
“The commitment it takes from our student-athletes to put themselves in position to stay healthy and pursue their sporting passion is greater than any other student on our campus,” said Brian Hardin, Director of Athletics at Drake University. “The sacrifices our student-athletes have to make from a social standpoint are very real. But the rewards this year from competing and putting themselves in position to win a conference championship is totally worth it.”
Before Sunday’s loss, Drake was 9-0 in MVC play for the first time since 2008 and the third time in program history. The Bulldogs’ 18 wins were the fourth-best start by an MVC school and equaled the sixth-longest winning streak in MVC history.
“The success we’ve had to this point is certainly reflective of the great young men we have in our program and also of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes by Drake staff and administration to help give us the resources to be successful,” DeVries said.
DeVries enters his third season at Drake after a successful longtime assistant coaching position at Creighton. Under DeVries, Drake leads the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring at 81.3 points per game. The Bulldogs were one of three undefeated teams nationally, and their 18-0 start was the best in program history.
DeVries aided his team in earning its first national ranking in 13 years. The Bulldogs earned a number 25 slot in the AP Poll and number 25 slot in the Coaches Poll last week, Drake’s 33rd all-time ranking. Drake’s ranking marks its first top-25 ranking since 2008 and the first MVC team since 2017 to earn a regular-season top 25 ranking.
“The success and ranking of the men’s basketball team is further proof that you can have it all at Drake University,” Hardin said. “At some schools, they have to make a choice as to whether they want to be successful in academics or athletics. At Drake, I firmly believe we can be successful in academics and athletics.”
Sunday’s loss snapped a seven-game road winning streak for Drake, the second-longest road winning streak in school history. Under DeVries, the Bulldogs move to 16-18 on the road. Drake’s series record against the Crusaders falls to 6-8.
“We look forward to just continuing to play and getting the opportunity to compete,” DeVries said. “They are an awesome bunch of guys to coach and we want to keep having fun as long as possible.”