Drake’s men’s basketball team is on a two-game winning streak after beating Loyola in a close game, 83-76, on Saturday, Feb. 19 at Gentile Arena in Chicago, Ill.
”I think great levels of preparation and just believing in how good we can be as a team is why we won against Loyola,” said Conor Enright, first-year guard. “We stuck with the game plan and stayed composed and that helped us win the game.”
With this win against Loyola the Bulldogs improved their record to 19-9, and is 10-5 in conference play, placing them in fourth place in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“Practice was great leading up to the game, we were able to build some momentum with the win against Evansville, and we just carried that on to the game Saturday,” said Roman Penn, senior guard. “I think just being very focused on the scout and playing our game is what led to the performance we had.”
Enright reiterated what Penn said and also noted that when the team plays a big game they get “locked in even more” and they also focus on details “to a higher level”.
First-year Tucker DeVries had a career-tying 24 points in this game, this is his fourth game this season where he scored 20-plus points. DeVries also added to his season point total, which is at 394, getting closer to becoming only the third Drake freshman to score more than 400 points in a season.
“I was just taking whatever they gave me,” DeVries said. “I got to the free throw line a lot to get easy points but I thought we all contributed in big ways to get the win. We got stops when we needed them most and every time they went on a run we responded.”
DeVries said he had “a lot of fun” this season despite it going so fast, and he is “looking forward to this postseason”.
DeVries had a clutch three with only a minute left in regulation time that put Drake up 78-71. A dunk by senior forward Tremell Murphy and a few free throws put the game to bed.
“I thought we did a good job all game of making them uncomfortable on offense and took them out of their rhythm,” DeVries said. “We had worked on guarding some of their plays they typically go to at the end of the game and it paid off for us.”
After Saturday’s game DeVries moved into the No. 13 spot on the MVC all-time single-season freshman scoring list and is becoming a serious contender for MVC Freshman of the Year.
“Tuck is a great player and a lot of people were able to see that on Saturday,” Penn said. “He made some huge plays for us like he has been doing all year, and he is one of the best players not only in the league but nationally as well and he’s only going to get better! He brings so much to the table and you really see the difference he makes.”
Penn himself scored 12 points, eight were scored in the second half of the game.
“Just finding my spots to be aggressive in the offensive side is what led me to do what I was able to do,” Penn said. “My teammates put me in great spots to succeed and I was able to just play my game and play in the flow of the game.”
At the time of writing this article, the Bulldogs next game will be at home against Indiana State on Monday, Feb. 21 with a 7 p.m. tip-off.
Penn said that before the next game the team can as usual improve on their offense and defense. They can also work on playing hard and moving the ball around, but he thinks everything else will “take care of itself” if they fix the little things.
“Going into the final week we are just trying to keep the momentum from the last two games and stay hot heading into March,” Penn said. “It’s all about getting hot at the right time and I feel like we are playing our best basketball right now. For the Indiana state game we will just continue to work on us and get better.”